The Future of Medicine Depends on Physician Scientists
Physician-scientists are essential to advancing modern medicine. Yet a shortage of doctors with research training threatens the scientific progress that pushes medicine forward.
The Impact of Physician-Scientists:
Scientific insights provided by physician-scientists – including statins, targeted cancer therapies, HIV protease inhibitors, among countless others – have provided the basis for hundreds of FDA-approved medications.
Seven out of 10 NIH institute directors and chief scientific officers at top-ten pharmaceutical companies hold MDs. Physician-scientists account for 37 percent of Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine and many Nobel Prizes in Chemistry.
In the past three decades, the proportion of physicians engaged in research has declined to approximately 1.5 percent of the overall physician workforce. Read more here about how the PSSF seeks to address the challenge of increasing and supporting the physician-scientist pipeline.
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In Memoriam, Tadataka "Tachi" Yamada (1945-2021)
We are deeply saddened by the loss of the PSSF Board Chair and dear friend Dr. Tadataka “Tachi” Yamada. Tachi passed away unexpectedly on August 4th , 2021. He will be missed by all of us who had the privilege of knowing and working with him.
Tachi, a physician-scientist, was an extraordinary and visionary leader. Throughout a remarkable career in academia, industry, foundations, and venture capital, he catalyzed numerous efforts that resulted in new treatments to improve human health.
He valued deeply the dual career paths of being a physician and a scientist. He was very concerned that the number of physician-scientists has been decreasing steadily. Tachi was fiercely dedicated to rebuilding and securing the physician-scientist community.
As the founding chair of the PSSF Board, he helped to form and build PSSF. Despite his busy schedule, he met monthly with the PSSF board and talked frequently in between the monthly meetings on how to increase the physician-scientist pipeline. He was particularly committed to providing research opportunities to medical students through a year-out program.
Tachi was particularly gifted in bringing experts together to solve problems. At PSSF, he engaged thought leaders, advocacy groups, and consultants on issues that lead to the decline of physician-scientists. This culminated in a workshop at the National Academy of Medicine in 2019.
We are grateful to Tachi for his inspiration and guidance. We will continue his vision to reinvigorate the physician-scientist workforce by supporting the training of physician-scientists and removing the barriers that led many to leave this career path.
The Journal of Clinical Investigation featured Dr. Robert Lefkowitz in their Conversations with Giants in Medicine series. Watch