Friday, October 29, 2010

23 views on the community of physician-scientists

This week, I’ve been referencing some classic medical literature.  Now, there’s a recent title that I’m interested in picking up.

It is The Vanishing Physician-Scientist? edited by Dr. Andrew I. Schafer.

Dr. Schafer is the Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and Physician-in-Chief at New York Presbyterian Hospital–Weill Cornell Medical Center. He is past president of the American Society of Hematology, the founding editor in chief of its publication, and President-Elect of the Association of Professors of Medicine.

According Dr. Schafer, physicians throughout history have played a vital role in medical discovery. These physician-scientists devote the majority of their professional effort to seeking new knowledge about health and disease through research and represent the entire continuum of biomedical investigation. They bring a unique perspective to their work and often base their scientific questions on the experience of caring for patients. Physician-scientists also effectively communicate between researchers in the "pure sciences" and practicing health care providers. Yet there has been growing concern in recent decades that, due to complex changes, physician-scientists are vanishing from the scene.

In this book, leading physician-scientists and academic physicians examine the problem from a variety of perspectives: historical, demographic, scientific, cultural, sociological, and economic. They make valuable recommendations that – if heeded – should preserve and revitalize the community of physician-scientists as the profession continues to evolve and boundaries between doctors and researchers shift.

Contributors to the book are:
  • James M. Anderson, MD, PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine
  • Ann J. Brown, MD, MHS, Duke University School of Medicine 
  • Barry S. Coller, MD, Rockefeller University
  • Fabio Cominelli, MD, PhD, Case Western Reserve University
  • Paul E. DiCorleto, PhD, Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
  • Mark Donowitz, MD, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine 
  • Stephen G. Emerson, MD, PhD, Haverford College
  • Gregory Germino, MD, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Stephen J. Heinig, Association of American Medical Colleges
  • Margaret K. Hostetter, MD, Yale University School of Medicine
  • Reshma Jagsi, MD, DPhil, University of Michigan Medical School
  • Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, MACP, University of California, San Diego School of Medicine David Korn, MD, Harvard University and Harvard Medical School
  • Timothy J. Ley, MD, Washington University School of Medicine
  • Philip M. Meneely, PhD, Haverford College
  • David G. Nathan, MD, Harvard Medical School
  • Philip A. Pizzo, MD, Stanford University School of Medicine
  • Jennifer Punt, VMD, PhD, Haverford College
  • Andrew I. Schafer, MD, Weill Cornell Medical College and New York-Presbyterian Hospital
  • Alan L. Schwartz, MD, PhD, Washington University School of Medicine
  • Roy L. Silverstein, MD, Cleveland Clinic 
  • Nancy J. Tarbell, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School
Reviews of the book have been positive. Glenn Bubley, MD of Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and Harvard Medical School writes, "In The Vanishing Physician-Scientist? Dr. Schafer makes the case that truly effective translational research can go from bench to bedside and back again in dynamic fashion; he describes a view of the future in which physician-scientists will be members of research teams. This book does an excellent job of placing physician-scientists in historical context and highlighting the fact that the problem of the endangered physician-scientist is not a new one. The Vanishing Physician-Scientist? outlines a long-term problem that is likely to get worse, and, most important, provides a number of possible solutions. Given the current constraints—on NIH-funded research and an understandable retrenchment for funding by industry and foundations—its descriptions of strategies that have been successful in the past and are likely to be successful in the future are more valuable than ever."

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