SAN ANTONIO (Jan. 14, 2015) — Dual-degree programs at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio are thriving, according to the percentage of students supported by highly competitive and scarce National Institutes of Health (NIH) fellowship awards.
The M.D./Ph.D. Program and the D.D.S./Ph.D. Program at the Health Science Center are each ranked in the top four programs in the country in percentage of students whose research is supported by NIH F30 or F31 grants. These programs train physician-scientists and dentist-scientists who are capable of not only doing patient care but of advancing, through their research, improvements in the standard of care for their patients.
The M.D./Ph.D. Program ranks in the top four among 112 U.S. programs based on percentage of students supported by F30 fellowships, said José E. Cavazos, M.D., Ph.D., assistant dean in the School of Medicine and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and director of the M.D./Ph.D. Program. He credits students’ success in part to an innovative workshop called F Troop that offers mentoring in competing for the NIH fellowships. Linda M. McManus, Ph.D., professor of pathology and director of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, developed and directs F Troop.
Seven of 35 M.D./Ph.D. students (20 percent) attracted F30 awards, data show. “This figure is higher than all but three other schools,” Dr. Cavazos said. “Significantly, only 428 of the more than 5,100 M.D./Ph.D. students nationwide earned this prestigious NIH fellowship funding award in 2014.”
Impressively, five of the six students who are pursuing both D.D.S. and Ph.D. degrees in the School of Dentistry and Graduate School (83 percent) also have F30 grants, said Michael A. Henry, D.D.S., Ph.D., professor of endodontics and program director. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research funds only 30 of these F30 awards nationwide, Dr. Cavazos said.
The NIH awards fellowships to qualified applicants with the potential to become productive, independent, highly trained clinician-scientists. These future investigators will have both clinical knowledge and skills in basic, translational or clinical research.
The M.D./Ph.D. Program is a program in which students complete two years in the School of Medicine and then embark full time on their Ph.D. dissertation research for three to four years. When requirements for the Ph.D. degree, including dissertation research, are met, students complete the final two years of their medical degree.
D.D.S./Ph.D. students complete three years of doctoral work through the Graduate School and four years of customized dental training after completion of the doctoral qualifying exam.
Institutional and philanthropic support
The M.D./Ph.D. Program receives funding from the Health Science Center President’s Office, the School of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and several endowments at the Health Science Center, including the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Endowment, the Brackenridge Foundation Endowment, the Greehey Family Foundation Endowment and the Harry F. Adler, M.D., Ph.D., Endowment.
The D.D.S/Ph.D. Program is supported by a T32 Institutional Training Grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and by the School of Dentistry Dean’s Office.
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 13 percent of academic institutions receiving National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. The university’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced more than 31,000 graduates. The $787.7 million operating budget supports eight campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit www.uthscsa.edu.