1. Purpose and Background

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) seeks input on NIGMS’s institutional Medical Scientist (M.D.-Ph.D.) Training Program (MSTP). This Request for Information (RFI) will assist NIGMS in identifying, developing and potentially implementing strategies that will catalyze the modernization of physician scientist training at the national level to ensure that trainees gain the skills and knowledge needed to be leaders of the biomedical research enterprise of the United States in academia, industry, and government settings.

NIGMS has a longstanding commitment to training the next generation of biomedical scientists and supports M.D.-Ph.D. dual degree training through the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP). This program provides Ruth L. Kirschstein Institutional Predoctoral Training Grant (T32) awards to medical institutions that are responsible for training physician scientists. The Physician Scientist Workforce Report of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director has highlighted the decline of physician scientists as a percentage of overall NIH principal investigators. NIH data presented at the 50th Anniversary Medical Scientist Training Program symposium, shows that while earlier cohorts of MSTP trainees were highly successful in achieving independent research careers and NIH grant support, more recent graduates have been less successful. Many factors may contribute to this difference, including lengthening of the post-M.D.-Ph.D. training period before achieving independence and increased competition of investigators for limited research funds and positions. Several efforts are underway to address these issues as they pertain to physician scientists. This RFI specifically focuses on the dual degree training programs supported by NIGMS through MSTP grants and how they can enhance the persistence of trainees in research careers.

Information Requested:

NIGMS invites all interested parties, including the general public, to provide input on matters that can be specifically addressed through the MSTP. Changes in post-M.D.-Ph.D. training and future research support are outside of the scope of this RFI. Topics that could be addressed include, but are not limited to, the following areas:

All responses must be submitted by August 9th, 2017.

Responses are limited to 500 words per topic.


1. Impact of the time at which trainees apply to and enroll in M.D.-Ph.D. programs (e.g., before, during or after the first year of medical school) on identifying the trainees most committed to and promising for a physician scientist career.

* 2. Best practices for selecting candidates, including strategies to identify promising candidates who may not have had prior research exposure.

* 3. Strategies of recruitment that could potentially enhance the diversity of trainees enrolled in M.D.-Ph.D. programs.


4. Possible impact of changes to the current economic incentives during M.D.-Ph.D. training (e.g., the requirement for trainees to bear some of the training costs) on MSTP applicant pool and the range of institutions that apply for MSTP support.

* 5. Impact of financial assistance on the trainees’ commitment to research careers.

* 6. Influence of different possible M.D.-Ph.D. funding models (e.g., direct tuition and stipend payment, loan repayment programs, post-graduation service requirements) on the MSTP trainee pool.

Dual-degree training:

7. Potential approaches to further integrate basic medical education, research experiences, and clinical training, as well as to enhance the M.D.-Ph.D. training curriculum.

* 8. The essential knowledge and skills required of physician scientists to be successful researchers and leaders of the biomedical research enterprise in academia, industry, and government

* 9. The alignment of currently available MSTP graduate research training areas with the future needs of the biomedical enterprise.

* 10. Strategies for improving mentoring and career advising for M.D.-Ph.D. trainees.

* 11. Potential approaches to decrease the time-to-degree for M.D.-Ph.D. training.

* 12. Approaches to encourage MSTP participants to pursue research careers in academia, industry, and government.

NIGMS management of MSTP grants:
13. Important factors to consider in peer review of MSTP grants.

* 14. Approaches to evaluate outcomes and to measure the success of MSTP-funded M.D.-Ph.D. training programs.

* 15. Geographic distribution of MSTP-supported M.D.-Ph.D. training programs across the nation.

* 16. The optimal number of MSTP-supported M.D.-Ph.D. training programs and the optimal number of students each MSTP supports.

* Other: 

17. Anything else specific to MSTP training you feel is important for NIH to consider with respect to enhancing the persistence of M.D.-Ph.D. trainees in research careers.

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