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'Scientists Incubator' Program To Train Young Physicians In Laboratory Research

A pediatrician shines a light into a child's mouth during an exam.
Eric Risberg
Less than 1.5 percent of physicians pursue careers in research, so a new University of Pittsburgh program is helping the young professionals learn what a career in research would entail.

A new programat the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine aims to help young physicians learn the ropes of research. Less than 1.5 percent of medical doctors pursue research careers, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Internist and associate professor Richard Steinman will direct the Physician Scientist Incubator program, which will enroll 21 doctors doing fellowships or residencies at UPMC. He said medical science needs more doctors that can translate the latest discoveries to the bedside. 

“There’s never been such a time when promise of basic scientific discoveries can be transformed so productively,” said Steinman.

The program includes mentoring, career coaching, and technical support for learning laboratory skills. It will also support participants with work-life balance by helping them with things like laundry or home repairs. It's expected to begin early next year. 

“Right now, it is so challenging for people to have one foot in the clinical world and another in the research world,” said Steinman, “that research doesn’t benefit as much as it could from the insight of physicians.”

The incubator is being created with a $2.5 million gift from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund matched with another $2.5 million from UPMC. Pitt is also contributing $250,000 bringing the total endowment to $5.25 million.

WESA receives funding from Pitt and UPMC.

Sarah Boden covers health and science for 90.5 WESA. Before coming to Pittsburgh in November 2017, she was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio where she covered a range of issues, including the 2016 Iowa Caucuses.