IMSD – Second year and beyond
The IMSD program continues to provide mentoring, support, and enrichment activities until the PhD is awarded. For example, the IMSD program offers careful mentoring to second year students to ensure they are prepared with all the skills and experience to pass their qualifying examinations. During all years the IMSD program provides funding for student travel to attend meetings or symposiums and present their research projects at a poster session or by giving a short talk. Although stipend/tuition funding from the IMSD ends after one year (or possibly two years, depending on student performance), the majority of IMSD students successfully apply for and obtain external funding, including positions on training grants, research grant supplements, and highly competitive individual fellowships. Currently, 93% of previously supported IMSD students in the second year and beyond have obtained external funding (the remaining 7% being supported by individual investigator’s research grants). Among IMSD students who entered in the fall of 2007 through 2009, 60% have obtained prestigious individual predoctoral fellowships from both federal and private sources including the NIH, the Dept. of Defense Medical Research Programs and the American Heart Association.
A cohesive and supportive environment remains the hallmark of the IMSD program in the second year and beyond. Students of all years have the opportunity to present their dissertation research projects at the IMSD Data Club, a twice monthly gathering for both current and former IMSD students who have joined various departments and programs to maintain ties, participate in valuable scientific discussions, and receive useful feedback on their dissertation research. The IMSD program maintains a core research lab with facilities for specialized cell culture and virus preparation, qPCR, fluorescent microscopy and quantitative protein imaging available free of charge to facilitate the research projects of current and former IMSD students until they receive their PhD. Finally, the IMSD program offers support for experiences in translational medicine and executive leadership that are described in more detail below.
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute/VUMC Certificate Program in Molecular Medicine is a non-degree program that offers a training pathway for graduate students to gain direct medical knowledge and exposure to clinical research. Students learn under the guidance of both a research mentor and a clinical mentor to allow for integration of basic science research with important clinical, disease-based areas. Successful completion of 100 contact hrs comprising any mix of didactic or experiential lectures, seminars, or other individual experiences in clinical medicine will lead to conferral of the Certificate in Molecular Medicine. This program was initiated by a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute that provides partial stipend support to participating students. The IMSD can also provide financial support for students who are underrepresented in medicine to participate in this program.
A key goal of the IMSD program is to empower students to successfully complete their PhD in biomedical sciences with the expectation that these students will go on in their future careers to assume leadership positions in biomedical research in academia or industry and thereby serve as role models for future generations. Rather than leave leadership development to random chance encounters with appropriate role models, the IMSD program offers a more deliberate approach. Specifically, through their entire graduate careers it is a goal of the program to expose both past and current IMSD students to a culture of executive leadership. This will include biannual leadership workshops where skills such as team building, conflict resolution and administration will be emphasized. Students will also be invited to attend small group meetings in informal settings with current leaders in academia, biopharma or society at large. These meetings provide opportunities for students gain insight from expert perspectives and to learn directly from accomplished leaders through question and answer sessions .