November 15, 2002

Science retreat extends knowledge, advice to young researchers

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Dr. Martin Blaser spoke at last week’s science retreat about his top 10 ways to succeed as a researcher. (photo by Dana Johnson)

The Vanderbilt Physician Scientist Development Program (VPSD) and the Master of Science in Clinical Investigation Program sponsored a retreat last week for faculty at the Frist Visual Arts Center.

Both programs are part of Vanderbilt’s recognition of the formidable challenges facing the career development of successful physician scientists. The programs were formed to augment physician scientist career development in the junior faculty years.

The VPSD program, lead by Dr. Jeffrey Balser, is designed to provide an enriching scientific environment and salary support to allow newly appointed assistant professor physicians with significant research experience to receive mentored investigative training. Vanderbilt has extensive mentoring resources for physician scientists interested in broad areas of basic science and patient-oriented research.

The Master of Science in Clinical Investigation Program, directed by Dr. Tom Hazinski, was created in response to the need for investigators trained in the techniques and processes utilized in patient-oriented research. The program is intended to provide direct, mentored experience in clinical investigation and, through didactic work, to provide trainees with a strong foundation in study design, biostatistics, biomedical ethics, clinical pharmacology, human genetics and assay methods.

Former Vanderbilt faculty member Dr. Martin Blaser, now chairman of the department of Medicine at New York University, delivered the plenary lecture, outlining his top 10 ways to succeed as a research.

Blaser’s advice to the junior faculty assembled at the retreat included: hard work is essential; find a mentor; find a solvable program; build your clinical base; keep a good notebook; follow a problem; learn how to express yourself; do not take ethical shortcuts; be a mentor; and enjoy the process.

"Research should be enjoyable," Blaser said. "If not, maybe it’s not right for you. Research isn’t for everyone. Do research because you love it."

"Your most important resource is time," Blaser added. "Find ways to protect time for your own development. Programs like these at Vanderbilt are designed to protect time."