Helping Young Scientists Design Better Medicine

A new UCSD program is taking researchers-in-training into the clinics to help them design their research with patient care in mind.

Med Into Grad, now in its second year at UCSD, gives young scientists the chance to spend up to six months with patients before they embark on their laboratory careers.

It’s a new approach to developing what Dr. Ken Kaushansky calls “bilingual” medical scientists – those individuals who speak both the language of basic science and the language of clinical medicine.

Dr. Kaushansky and Dr. Mark P. Kamps lead the UCSD Med Into Grad program.

Dr. Kaushansky is Helen M. Ranney Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine. Dr. Kamps is Professor of Pathology and Director of the Graduate Program in Pathology.

“There are two basic pathways to develop ‘bilingual’ biomedical scientists,” Dr. Kaushansky says. “One is the classic MD/PhD program, and the other is teaching science to ‘straight MDs,’ the so-called ‘late bloomer’ pathway.

“The Med Into Grad program provides a new pathway; taking a basic science student and providing them with clinical experiences, allowing them to witness, first hand, the opportunities where science can improve clinical medicine.”

UCSD is one of several leading universities to offer Med Into Grad. The program is funded by a science education grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), a nonprofit research institution.

“The Med Into Grad program gives students a better understanding of the clinical basis of the diseases they are studying scientifically,” Dr. Kaushansky says. “It helps them design their science in ways that we can apply directly to better patient care.”