PePSTP (MD/PhD)

The Oliver Langenberg Physician-Scientist Training Program at Washington University

Washington University and its Department of Pediatrics have a long and successful history of training pediatric physician-scientists.  Our Pediatric Physician-Scientist Training Program was formalized in 2011, and the program has received substantial external support since 2013 from the Edward Mallinckrodt, Jr. Foundation. The foundation has provided a grant in memory of Oliver Langenberg, a St. Louis businessman and philanthropist who led the foundation for 50 years and died in 2012 at the age of 99.

Quick facts from the Department of Pediatrics and our PePSTP:

Our Pediatric Residency Program averages 5.5 MD/PhD interns per entering class
The PePSTP has inducted 30 trainees since 2012, has graduated 8 trainees, and has 17 trainees currently in the program
Among PePSTP graduates who have applied for K awards, success rate is 100%; additional graduates have received subspecialty-specific career awards
Overall, the Department of Pediatrics has a K success rate of >80% and K-to-R success rate of 60%, both far above national averages

Key features of the Pediatric Physician-Scientist Training Program (PePSTP) are:

  1. A flexible, individualized training experience combining both clinical and research training.
  2. Enhanced mentoring to optimize transitions from clinical to scientific training and into the first academic faculty position.
  3. Preferential access into any of the subspecialty fellowships at Wash U and SLCH. 
  4. Discretionary educational funds and salary enhancement (see below). 

The ultimate goal of the program is to ensure the successful launch of pediatric trainees into research-intensive faculty careers in academic medicine. Successful applicants will generally have both MD and PhD degrees, or be MD's with a Master's degree or other substantial research experience (including publications). Trainees in the PePSTP are encouraged to consider participating in the Accelerated Research Pathway (i.e., fast-tracking) as defined by the American Board of Pediatrics; to date, about two-thirds of our PePSTP trainees have elected to follow the ARP.

The PePSTP is dedicated to training young scientists and preparing them for successful careers in academic medicine. The program focuses on the period from the completion of the combined MD/PhD degree through the clinical and post-doctoral research training years, with the goal of achieving full-time academic appointment as an investigator. The PePSTP combines the intensive clinical training environment of St. Louis Children's Hospital with rigorous scientific training in the world-renowned laboratories at Washington University. Presuming successful progress within the Categorical Pediatrics Residency Program, trainees enjoy preferential access into any of the clinical fellowships offered within the Department of Pediatrics. Fellowship research training (beginning in Year 4 if fast-tracking, Year 5 if on standard track) can be conducted within any laboratory across the broad biomedical research landscape of Washington University.

Eligibility

Eligible applicants include graduates with a combined MD/PhD degree, or an MD degree and a strong record of scientific experience, including publications. PePSTP trainees must fulfill all eligibility requirements for our Categorical Pediatrics training program. The most competitive candidates will have a strong commitment to a research career in academic medicine (including subspecialty fellowship training following residency) and an outstanding academic record.

Application Process

All MD/PhD applicants should use ERAS to apply to the standard Categorical Pediatrics Program at SLCH. For an MD/PhD applicant to be considered for the PePSTP, a recommendation letter from the applicant's PhD mentor or research supervisor must be included within the ERAS application materials. In addition, the ERAS Personal Statement should encompass the research experience of the applicant and should be specific and detailed regarding future plans for academic career development. In 2020, interviews for all MD/PhD residency applicants will be held by Zoom in November, December or January, and consist of two days:  the first (Thursday) a traditional residency interview, and the second (Friday) focused on PePSTP program details and research training opportunities.

Financial Support

PePSTP Trainees are guaranteed funding for both their clinical training years and their years of post-doctoral research. Senior fellows are encouraged to seek additional extramural funding (e.g., NIH K awards) to facilitate a subsequent transition to their first academic faculty position. PePSTP Trainees receive additional funds to support their career development that include:

  • Internship (Year 1) - $3,000 for the purchase of computers, software, books
  • Years 2 and 3 - $2,000 per year for travel to national meetings or purchases of software or books
  • Years 4, 5, and 6 - $10,000 annual supplement to salary (reflected in the stipends shown below)

Stipends (for the 2020-21 academic year, on Accelerated Research Pathway)

  • Year 1 - Intern $59,063
  • Year 2 - Resident $61,413
  • Year 3 - Clinical Fellow $64,179
  • Year 4 - Research Fellow $77,069
  • Year 5 - Research Fellow $79,051
  • Year 6 - Research Fellow $82,156

Program Structure

Clinical Training:

Pediatrics Training: Trainees will complete their internship and residency years within our Categorical Pediatrics Residency Program. Trainees who participate in the American Board of Pediatrics Accelerated Research Pathway (i.e., fast-tracking) will begin their subspecialty fellowship training during their third post-graduate year (PGY3) in lieu of their senior resident year in Pediatrics.
Clinical Fellowship Training: Trainees will complete the required clinical subspecialty training as outlined by their ABP subspecialty boards. This typically entails 12 to 18 months total of clinical activities, depending on the specific fellowship chosen.

Research Training:

The selection of an appropriate post-doctoral training environment is critical to the success of the physician-scientist trainee. To assist this critical selection process, trainees are closely mentored by the program directors and the relevant division chiefs and fellowship directors.  Trainees will attend annual Department of Pediatrics Research Retreat and Career Development Retreat, in addition to retreat events offered by each Department and Research Program with the Graduate Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences. Trainees are not limited to working within Pediatrics, but are encouraged to explore the broad and deep research environment across Washington University and can choose any laboratory in which to complete their post-doctoral research training. For specific information, see the faculty research listings at http://dbbs.wustl.edu/faculty/Pages/DivisionFaculty.aspx and http://www.medicine.wustl.edu/research. Also, the Children's Discovery Institute is a useful resource for residents, fellows, and faculty.

Coursework:

Trainees can enroll in or audit courses offered through the Graduate Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences covering every aspect of contemporary biomedical research. All trainees will receive Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training as required by the National Institutes of Health. Additional coursework will be coordinated on an individualized basis.

Seminar Series:

PSTP Trainees from Pediatrics, Medicine, and Pathology participate in seminar series and retreat activities focused on research in medicine.

  • Annual PSTP Symposium and Spring Talks series, featuring dinner with established physician-investigators
  • Discussion in Medical Research. Joint seminar series with the Washington University MD-PhD (MSTP) program in which faculty members discuss their research programs and career paths

In addition, PePSTP Trainees attend:

  • Pediatric Molecular Medicine Seminar. This series is centered on recent developments in molecular medicine. In addition, senior trainees discuss their research at this weekly forum
  • Annual Department of Pediatrics Research Retreat
  • Annual Pediatric Fellows' Career Development Retreat

PePSTP trainees have full access to the activities and programs of the Wash U Division of Physician-Scientists, and often attend weekly seminar series and special lectures offered by the relevant basic science programs within the Graduate Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences.

For additional information, please email the Co-Directors:

Anthony French, MD, PhD - french_a@wustl.edu

David Hunstad, MD - dhunstad@wustl.edu

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