NIH Grant Plays Roles in Attracting Students to Biomedical Careers

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One of the longest running NIH grants ever awarded to UTHSC researchers has just been renewed for another five years, for a total of 30 years.

One of the longest running National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants ever awarded to University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) researchers has just been renewed for another five years, for a total of 30 years.

Solomon S. Solomon, MD, UTHSC professor of medicine and pharmacology and chief of endocrinology & metabolism at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Memphis, has been and remains the principal investigator on the Medical Student Fellowship Program (MSFP) grant. A total of $787, 495 was awarded for the period of June 1, 2005 to May 31, 2010 and will allow 29 medical students to participate in the program this summer, beginning in June.

“The program provides stipends for a minimum of 24 medical student research fellows per year to participate in research projects for two to three months during the summer vacation,” explained Stephen Tom, director of research for the UTHSC College of Medicine, who administers the grant. “There has been a decline in the number of physician-scientists in the U.S. for at least two decades. This grant allows us to give medical students a taste of medical research and a sense of the contribution they can potentially make to their profession from the research arena.”

“It’s a challenge to attract new physicians to medical research because they come out of medical school with so much debt and are anxious to begin their practice so they can start paying it off,” noted Dr. Solomon. “Genius shows itself everywhere on our campus. The grant gives us an opportunity to tap individual talent so budding researchers sample both research and academic life. Some will get caught up in it enough to want to do research and pursue an academic career.”

According to an article by Dr. Solomon and Tom, published in the “Journal of Investigative Medicine” that was based on research of 1,000 medical students participating in the MSFP program, the program plays a critical role in interesting students in research and academic careers.

Dr. Solomon first applied for the MSFP grant in 1979. “After the initial application, only 11 medical schools out of 126 were funded, and UTHSC was one of them. We’ve been able to keep the grant for such a long time because our students and faculty are that good,” said Dr. Solomon.

After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Harvard University, Dr. Solomon went on to medical school at University of Rochester.