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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)

 

 

CURE For questions, please contact the CURE office, 312.255.1801, or email info@cureepilepsy.org.

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