September 4, 2009

Diabetes research program trains 27 medical students

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Alvin Powers, M.D., center, talks with students during the Medical Student Research Symposium poster presentation. (photo by Anne Rayner)

Diabetes research program trains 27 medical students

Medical students from across the country spent their summer “vacations” getting a taste of research in diabetes and endocrinology.

Vanderbilt's Medical Student Research Training Program (SRTP) in Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism — funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK) and the Vanderbilt Diabetes Center — provides intensive, high-quality research experience for medical students early in their academic careers.

Vanderbilt's program — now in its 25th year — has provided research training for more than 700 medical students from 65 medical schools. This summer, 27 students from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and other medical schools across the country spent their summers conducting independent research projects — ranging from basic science to clinical studies in humans — under the direction of Vanderbilt faculty.

“(The program) has been very instrumental in motivating medical students to choose career paths as physician scientists,” said Wanda Snead DHSc, M.S., manager of the Hormone Assay and Analytical Services Core and associate director of the program. “And because our program has been successful, we assisted the NIDDK in developing and organizing a national program with ours as the prototype.”

This marks the first year that all 17 NIDDK-sponsored Diabetes Research and Training Centers (DRTC) and Diabetes and Endocrinology Research Centers (DERCs) in the country have at least two to four students working on summer research projects, said Snead.

The program is directed by Alvin Powers, M.D., director of the Vanderbilt Diabetes Center and co-directed by Snead and David Wasserman, Ph.D., professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics.

As the summer wound down, about 85 medical students from all 17 participating diabetes centers came to Vanderbilt to present their work on Aug. 5 and 6. The 27 students performing research projects in Vanderbilt labs also presented their work at a special poster symposium with the Board of Directors of the Vanderbilt Diabetes Center.