Michael Petrany was exposed to the marriage of research and medicine while still an undergraduate at Xavier University.
Petrany worked in the lab of Burns Blaxall, PhD, at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center with a team of talented researchers and skilled physicians. The experience influenced him to apply to the UC College of Medicine's Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP), to earn a joint MD and PhD.
"I think there is a great need for physicians willing to follow this track,” explains Petrany. "It's a particular niche that is filled mostly by MD-PhDs in terms of bridging the gap from basic and translational to biomedical research to the bedside.”
The 22-year-old Huntington, West Virginia, native is the first recipient of the new Jeffrey A. Whitsett Physician Scientist Training Fellowship, a joint fellowship between the MSTP and the UC Molecular and Developmental Biology graduate program.
The fellowship is named after Jeffrey Whitsett, MD, a world leader in pediatric research, who is a professor in the UC Department of Pediatrics and co-director of the Perinatal Institute and chief of the section of Neonatology, Perinatal and Pulmonary Biology at Cincinnati Children’s.
The unique aspect of this fellowship is that fellows meet with Whitsett on a regular basis to receive professional development counseling and career advice, explains Gurjit Khurana Hershey, MD, PhD, director of the MSTP program at UC.
"The goal of the fellowship is to train physician scientists to become world leaders in research into health and diseases both at the bench and the bedside,” says Hershey.
With opportunities to attend medical school across the country, Petrany says the partnership between the College of Medicine and Cincinnati Children’s is what brought him to UC.
"For the latter two years of college, I was doing research at Cincinnati Children's and I was incredibly impressed with the culture,” said Petrany. "There was an attitude of collaboration and respect, and I think there is more humility here than at a lot of academic institutions, but it is not to the detriment of rigor and productivity.”
As part of the MSTP, Petrany will spend his first two years in medical school and then join a laboratory in the Molecular and Developmental Biology graduate program, says Andrea DeSantis, program manager for the Medical Scientist Training Program.
After completing his PhD, he will return to medical school for his last two years of clinical rotations. Petrany joins eight other students from across the country in the first-year MSTP class who are dedicating the next seven to eight years to train as physician scientists.
The MSTP admits students through a single process into UC’s College of Medicine for both medical and graduate training. Currently, 52 students are enrolled and 82 have graduated since the program’s inception in 1985.
The Jeffrey A. Whitsett fellowship provides tuition support for seven years and includes a $26,000 annual stipend. Interested applicants are encouraged to contact the program at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can be found at: www.med.uc.edu/MSTP