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VUSM welcomes inaugural class of Medical Innovators

Aug. 5, 2016, 8:37 AM

by Krystyna Barnard

Last week, the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (VUSM) Medical Innovators Development Program (MIDP) welcomed three students in its inaugural class.

The first of its kind in the country, the MIDP is a four-year M.D. training program tailored to engineers and applied scientists with existing Ph.D. degrees.

The inaugural class of the Medical Innovators Development Program includes, from left, Ariel Kniss, Ph.D., Sai Rajagopalan, Ph.D., and Jessica Wen, Ph.D.
The inaugural class of the Medical Innovators Development Program includes, from left, Ariel Kniss, Ph.D., Sai Rajagopalan, Ph.D., and Jessica Wen, Ph.D.

Ariel Kniss, Ph.D., and Jessica Wen, Ph.D., recently completed their dissertations in biomedical engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology and University of California, Riverside, respectively. Sai Rajagopalan, Ph.D., completed his degree in mechanical engineering from Ohio State, and has since applied his expertise as a product engineer at an international automotive manufacturer.

“We are thrilled that the inaugural MIDP class is beginning this summer,” said Reed Omary, M.D., M.S., Carol D. and Henry P. Pendergrass Professor and Chair of Radiology and Radiological Sciencces and MIDP program director. “Each of the three students brings a passion and enthusiasm for innovation that will help solve some of the greatest challenges in health and health care.”

The novel MIDP curriculum, combined with the students’ extensive backgrounds in engineering, will help them to develop innovative solutions in imaging, informatics and system design and medical technology.

In addition to participating in the Fundamentals of Medical Knowledge portion of VUSM’s Curriculum 2.0, in the first year the students will attend a monthly lecture series termed the ‘Forum.’

“The Forum will expose MIDP students to the dynamic culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, technology transfer and commercialization across Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Vanderbilt University and Nashville, and will help them network with key leaders in these areas,” said Omary.

“Enhanced learning opportunities such as these will help MIDP develop physician-innovators positioned at the forefront of medical innovation and technology,” said Vicky Morgan, Ph.D., associate professor of Radiology and Biomedical Engineering and MIDP associate director. “In addition, many of the learning opportunities offered through the program will be available to all VUSM students, promoting the physician-innovator mindset across the school.”

“We are very excited to be welcoming the first MIDP cohort to Vanderbilt,” said Bonnie Miller, M.D., Senior Associate Dean for Health Sciences Education and Executive Vice-President for Educational Affairs at VUMC. “We hope that this program will be rewarding to the students and will help address a real need in the health care system for leaders at the intersection of medicine, health and applied science.”

Applications for the 2017 MIDP class are now available. Students interested in applying may email MIDP or visit the website for additional information.

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