Seventy Medical Research Fellows to Embark on a Year in the Lab
Seventy of the nation’s top medical and veterinary students have been selected to participate in the 26th class of the HHMI Medical Research Fellows Program, a $2.8 million annual initiative to increase the training of future physician-scientists. The students will put their medical studies on hold for one year to conduct intensive, mentored biomedical research at 32 fellowship institutions across the country.
This year, HHMI received 191 fellowship applications from students representing 68 institutions. Each applicant was required to submit a research plan to work in a specific lab with a mentor they had identified.
“Most medical students have worked in labs for one to three months at a time. Just as they start to make progress in their project, they leave the laboratory to return to their studies,” said Helen Hobbs, an HHMI investigator at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, who mentored a medical fellow in her lab over the last year.
“Having a year to work exclusively in the laboratory without other distractions provides the student with sufficient time to experience the satisfactions and frustrations of being a scientist. They have time to establish meaningful relationships with the research team and to experience the culture of laboratory science,” said Hobbs. Hobbs mentored student, Rima Chakrabarti, who said her year in the program has been invaluable. “Not only did I experience the scientific rigor and critical thinking required to establish a biological assay, but I also learned the value of persevering to reach an end goal in lab.”
Under Hobbs’s guidance, Chakrabarti is studying the molecular basis of heritable diseases. She has been awarded a second year of funding in the program to continue her research before returning to medical school.“ The second year will be instrumental in teaching me how to think independently about scientific questions and to bring my project to a point where it can be submitted for publication and used by other investigators. Ultimately, it will prepare me to pursue a physician-scientist training pathway after medical school and one day run a successful lab,” said Chakrabarti.
Seventeen fellows will do research in the labs of HHMI scientists, and two will spend the year with researchers at HHMI's Janelia Farm Research Campus in Ashburn, Virginia.
The HHMI Medical Research Fellows Program allows medical, dental, and veterinary students to pursue biomedical research at academic or nonprofit research institutions anywhere in the United States except the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland or other federal agencies. The fellows take a break from their medical courses, and spend the year conducting basic, translational or applied biomedical research. The program has funded more than 1,500 students since its start in 1989.
Two fellows will work with investigators at the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV (K-RITH), in Durban, South Africa, a collaborative partnership between HHMI and the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban. K-RITH’s mission is to conduct outstanding basic science research on tuberculosis (TB) and HIV, translate the scientific findings into new tools to control TB and HIV, and expand the educational opportunities in the region.
Read the artire article, including the names of the research fellows participating (pdf)