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May 1, 2013

Creation and Retention of the Next Generation of Physician-Scientists for Child Health Research

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California (Dr Cornfield); Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (Dr Lane); and University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora (Dr Abman).

JAMA. 2013;309(17):1781-1782. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.2258

Academic pediatrics is motivated by a vision wherein the children of tomorrow are healthier than those of today. The physician-scientist is uniquely well positioned to create and translate discoveries into care. Over the last 30 years, proportionately fewer physician-scientists capable of sustaining a research program have committed to a hypothesis-driven research career focused on child-health issues. Since the 1980s, the percentage of physicians dedicating significant components of a professional life to research has declined from approximately 5% to 1.5%.1 Pediatrics may be more affected than other medical specialties. Despite more trainees, the population of physician-scientists is aging and the absolute number is declining.2 In 1980, 25% of research program grants were awarded to physicians older than 50 years, compared with 50% at present.1 The implications of these trends are substantial.

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