Harvard Medical School will receive a $4 million grant from a private foundation to help Ph.D. students study human biology.
The Lucille P. Markey Charitable Trust is donating the money in order to allow 50 Ph.D. biology students in the Medical School's Division of Medical Science (DMS) an additional year of study.
The students will share tutorials and classes with Medical School students and participate in supplementary clinical sessions at several Harvard-affiliated teaching hospitals.
The director of the new Harvard-Markey Biomedical Sciences Program, Dr. Franklin Bunn, said in a prepared statement. "We need biomedical scientists who are eager and prepared to study and tackle human disease. Physicians have traditionally taken on that task."
"Because of the formidable technology of the 1990s, it is not easy for them to go into a lab and grasp up-to-date techniques utilized in cellular and molecular biology," added Bunn, who is a professor of medicine at the Medical School and director of hematology research at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.
Bunn also said that Ph.D. students who would be skilled in these areas of biology traditionally have not worked in the field of human biology and that this program "would be able to fill that void without having to incur the large expense in both time and resources involved in earning both an M.D. and a Ph.D."
The program was proposed by DMS Chair Dr. John Collier, Presley professor of microbiology and molecular genetics.
Dean of the Medical School Daniel C. Tosteson '44 said in an interview on Wednesday that "it's a very exciting program," and that "these issues are high on our list of priorities."
The Markey Trust will donate the money over the course of the next five years.
Health Research Center
The trust also awarded $2.25 million to Harvard's Children's Hospital to establish the Markey Child Health Research Center. The program is designed to support young physicians during their years of research training before they can compete for grants from the National Institutes of Health, Medical School officials said.
The center will be directed by Stranahan Professor of Pediatrics David A. Nathan, who is the physician-in-chief at Children's Hospital, and will be a collaborative effort between Children's Hospital and the University's Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
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