Physician Scientist Training Program

The Physician Scientist Training Program (PSTP) in the Department of Pathology & Immunology at Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM) is committed to training the next generation of physician scientist leaders in Clinical and Anatomic Pathology. The program focuses on providing support, mentorship, and research experience through the clinical and postdoctoral training years, culminating in a trainee who is highly competitive for tenure track academic positions as an independent physician scientist.

Although the three-year Clinical and Anatomic Pathology Residency Programs include time for research training, the Department recognizes that serious basic science training requires substantial additional time. Thus, the Department supports PSTP trainees for up to three years dedicated entirely to research training after completion of residency.

The PSTP combines the intensive clinical training environment of Barnes-Jewish Hospital at Washington University Medical Center with rigorous basic and translational science training in laboratories at Washington University. Trainees choose a research mentor from any of the 2,700 faculty members at Washington University, representing a range of disciplines including cancer biology, microbiology, biomedical engineering, immunobiology, genomics, computational sciences, cell biology, and biochemistry. More information about the faculty at WUSM in the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences (DBBS) is available at: http://dbbs.wustl.edu/Pages/index.aspx.


Eligibility

Eligible applicants include graduates with a combined MD-PhD degree or an MD degree and a strong record of basic science research experience. Applicants must fulfill all eligibility requirements for clinical or anatomic pathology training. The most competitive candidates will have a strong commitment to a research career in academic medicine and an outstanding academic and research record.


Application process

Candidates must apply to the Anatomic or Clinical Pathology Residency program at WUSM through the ERAS (Electronic Residency Application System) and should be registered through the NRMP (National Residency Matching Program). Applicants for the combined Anatomic and Neuropathology residency program may also apply for admission to the PSTP, but applicants for the combined Anatomic and Clinical Pathology Program are not eligible.

Those interested in applying for the PSTP are encouraged to contact the Clinical Pathology Residency Director, Dr. Brenda Grossman or the Anatomic Pathology Residency Program Director, Dr. Hannah Krigman.  Applicants are also encouraged to contact one of the directors of the PSTP, Dr. Jacqueline Payton (CP) or Dr. Thad Stappenbeck (AP), to express interest and obtain additional information about the program.  These contacts should be made as early as possible; it is not necessary that the ERAS application be complete prior to contacting the directors.

In addition to the ERAS application, candidates should submit a CV, a one-page description of research accomplishments, and a one-page description of long-term career goals. Additionally, three letters of recommendation, including one from the research mentor that comments primarily about the candidate’s potential for a career as an independent basic scientist are required to complete the application.  Letters in the ERAS application are acceptable if they fulfill the above criteria.

PSTP interviews consist of two days of meetings with clinical faculty and research faculty of interest to the applicant. Candidates may also be asked to present a seminar on their research (CP candidates only).


Program

Trainees complete the clinical training required by the American Board of Pathology for board eligibility in clinical or anatomic pathology during the first three years of training. During this period, trainees also initiate their research programs. Mentorship is crucial to the PSTP, which therefore includes collaborative assessment of research training mentors and experiences through regular updates to the PSTP Committee. The goal is to tailor the training experience to foster the development of uniquely trained individuals who will work at the forefront of biomedical science.

At the end of residency, trainees embark on up to three years of full-time postdoctoral research training free of clinical commitments, though there are opportunities for continued clinical activities. The selection of an appropriate postdoctoral training environment is critical to the success of the trainee. To assist in this critical selection process, trainees will have (in addition to intensive mentoring) the opportunity to attend annual retreats offered by each department and research program within the DBBS.  Importantly, trainees can complete their postdoctoral research training in any laboratory at WU or the WUSM.


Financial support

Trainees are guaranteed salary support for three clinical training years and up to three postdoctoral training years. This salary support follows the established post-graduate clinical training salaries for the three clinical years.  Trainees receive $3,000 during the first year for the purchase of a computer and software.  During the second and third clinical years trainees receive up to $1,500 per year to attend research conferences.  During the postdoctoral training years, trainees receive a salary supplement of $15,000 per year in addition to the PGY salary. In addition, senior trainees are considered for promotion to Instructor.

Senior trainees are encouraged to obtain additional funding to facilitate their ultimate transition to their first academic position. Funding sources include K08 and private foundation grants, such as the Burroughs Wellcome Award. The PSTP has an excellent track record of trainees competing successfully for both K08 and Burroughs Wellcome Awards. For those trainees who show exceptional progress in their research, applications for R01 or R21 awards will be considered.


Helpful links


Contact information  

  • PSTP (CP) Director: Jacqueline  Payton, MD, PhD
  • PSTP (AP) Director: Thad Stappenbeck, MD, PhD
  • AP Residency Director:  Hannah Krigman, MD
  • CP Residency Director:  Brenda Grossman, MD
  • Neuropathology Director:  Robert (Bob) Schmidt, MD, PhD
  • PSTP Coordinator:  Ann Winn