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February 8, 2006

Physician-Scientist Training—Reply

JAMA. 2006;295(6):623-624. doi:10.1001/jama.295.6.623-b

In Reply: Drs Haspel and Orlinick question the intrinsic value of MSTP programs, based in part on the assumption that their graduates experience long delays to their first academic positions, which reduces earning potential. The recent report on fostering the independence of new investigators from the National Research Council of the National Academies1 provided evidence that in 2002, the average age for first assistant professorships was about 38 years for MDs and 39 years for MD-PhDs. The average age for receipt of the first R01 or R29 award was 44 years for MDs and 43 years for MD-PhDs. These data underscore the serious problem of delayed career entry1,2 but they do not suggest that MSTP graduates are unduly “age-challenged” in taking up independent research careers.