October 15, 2015

VUSM seeks to spur medical innovation

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine is accepting applicants into a novel program aimed at students seeking to transform health and health care through medical innovation.

Leaders for Vanderbilt University School of Medicine’s new Medical Innovators Development Program include, from left, Andre Churchwell, M.D., Trent Rosenbloom, M.D., MPH, Richard Boyer, Ph.D., Victoria Morgan, Ph.D., and Reed Omary, M.D., M.S. (photo by Steve Green)

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine is accepting applicants into a novel program aimed at students seeking to transform health and health care through medical innovation.

Tailored to engineers and applied scientists with Ph.D. degrees, the Medical Innovators Development Program (MIDP) at Vanderbilt will be the first of its kind in the country.

“Both health and health care are growing increasingly complex,” said Reed Omary, M.D., Carol D. and Henry P. Pendergrass Professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences and chair of the department. “We are attempting to build an engineering-based cadre whose focus will be in one of three key areas — informatics and systems design, medical devices and imaging.

“We are striving for radical innovation occurring at the intersection of medicine, engineering and business.”

The new four-year M.D. program will enroll up to four students each year with the first group joining the incoming class of 2016.

The first two years of the program will follow the traditional medical student course of study. During the third and fourth years, MIDP students will be assigned a series of additional courses designed to prepare them to solve clinical problems by translating discoveries.

Omary said the program’s purpose is to train applied physician-scientists to help solve some of the greatest unmet challenges in health care.

“Engineers are trained to solve problems,” Omary said. “Some of our biggest health care needs include accessing personal health information in the digital age, the use of 3-D printing to create medical devices that can benefit patients and learning to combine imaging, genomics and lab information to diagnose and treat patients. Engineers can look at health care issues from a different perspective and develop platforms to solve major problems.”

Omary said physician-engineers who understand both clinical medicine and biomedical design are critical to the changing health care landscape. MIDP is Vanderbilt’s first step in a broader mission to bridge the gap between academia, industry and health, he said.

In 2013 VUSM implemented Curriculum 2.0. Tagged as a system of lifelong learning, the deeply integrated curriculum requires teamwork on the part of faculty and allows students opportunities to individualize their training.

Curriculum 2.0 creators said it helps students better adapt to a system that is increasingly more reliant on teamwork and continuous learning. Its inherent flexibility will offer MIDP students the ability to gain special knowledge and skills during the immersion phase.

“Reed has led a faculty team from across the University in developing this exciting and unique new program,” said Bonnie Miller, M.D., associate vice chancellor for Health Affairs and senior associate dean for Health Sciences Education. “While aiming to fill an unmet need for physician-innovators, it also demonstrates the potential for educational innovation allowed by Curriculum 2.0.”

According to Omary, MIDP students will make up a small cohort of learners with individualized content in one of the three key areas as well as generalized content in intellectual property, entrepreneurship, management and the FDA regulatory process. The program will emphasize multi-disciplinary collaboration with faculty from the medical, engineering and business schools.

“We are not training physicians to simply fill the health care workforce,” Omary said. “Instead we are training highly specialized leaders who will improve the lives of patients through disruptive technologies. This program will create physicians who will be at the forefront of digital medicine. With Vanderbilt MIDP, we are positioning ourselves to invent the future of medicine.”

The deadline for applications is Nov. 1. Prospective MIDP applicants can contact midp-admissions@vanderbilt.edu for additional information or visit https://medschool.vanderbilt.edu/midp.