New crop of medical students are headed to the lab – Stanford Medical Center Report

Karen Malacons life plan is to open a neurology research lab perhaps to investigate prenatal brain development, or maybe cognitive decline in aging patients.

My ultimate career goal is to run my own lab, and use its discoveries to help patients, she said. I feel its very important to interact with patients to inform the questions Ill be asking in the lab.

Malacon is one of 10 students who are starting StanfordsMedical Science Training Program, a seven- to eight-year curriculum that awards both a medical degree and a doctorate. But many of the 80 other students entering medical school this year are also intent on research: Twenty-two, far more than the more typical three to five, have committed to spending at least one extra year of medical school in a laboratory.

The school intentionally pursued research-oriented students, saidPJ Utz, MD, associate dean for medical student research, because the number of physicians with research expertise has been dropping nationwide.

That trend has many atStanford Medicineand other academic medical centers concerned, as physicians who conduct research form a crucial link between laboratory exploration and patient care. They are especially suited to direct research toward treatments while also bringing laboratory findings into the clinic.

Some students want to focus on patients, and thats fine, said Utz, a professor of immunology and rheumatology. But we are seeing the extinction of the physician-scientist unless we do something. If anyones going to lead this effort its got to be Stanford.

As a biomedical science hub with laboratories a short walk from Stanford Hospital, Lucile Packard Childrens Hospital Stanford and the medical school, the university is well-positioned to educate physician-scientists.

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New crop of medical students are headed to the lab - Stanford Medical Center Report

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