Medical Scientist Training Program Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Celebrating anniversaries and firsts is tricky. It’s hard to find the date sometimes, and sometimes the information isn’t totally clear. It is not (to my dismay) an exact science. So going forward, we can emphasize the accomplishment rather than the precise day and year.

mstp-groupCase in point, the Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD), currently led by Dr. Yoji Shimizu. Today the MSTP is having its 30th Anniversary event. Our NIH MSTP T32 training grant was first funded on July 1, 1988. We aren’t really celebrating the date, although it gives us a good reason to look back over the years of the program; we’re celebrating the melding of clinical and basic sciences, the development of hundreds of young physician-scientists, the thousands of faculty hours devoted to training them and the scientific discoveries that have led to improvements in the practice of medicine. It is a spectacular achievement and the kind that only an academic institution can do well. The MSTP not only trains the student, the training also trains the mentors. It brings in new stimuli to educate the faculty and to give their work purpose. As mentors, the MSTP is asking us to create a document describing our advising philosophy, ostensibly for the students, but again, it benefits the teacher to think through the process, the expectations and the responsibilities entailed. Mine is attached.

Another September anniversary, this one celebrating 35 years, is for William Krivit’s first bone marrow transplant in the USA for Hurler syndrome, considered the first effective treatment for a lysosomal disorder. This outstanding and groundbreaking work continues today in Paul Orchard’s pediatric transplant group. This and other firsts are a direct result of Robert Good’s pioneering bone marrow transplant work, which created an environment of exploration that stemmed from a deep understanding of the immunology involved. Another first was reported in 1980, when the article, “Successful Bone-Marrow Transplantation for Infantile Malignant Osteopetrosis” was published by David Brown’s group in The New England Journal of Medicine. This broadened the application of bone marrow transplant from leukemias to genetic disorders and stands as one of the earliest iterations of gene therapy.

I hope your September is off to a good start and wish you all the best for a wonderful school year.

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