The pipeline of physician-scientists is dwindling. The decline in this vital cadre of cancer researchers is occurring at a time when cancer research holds the greatest promise of improving survival and quality of life among cancer patients. A growing shortage of physician-scientists means that major laboratory research discoveries will progress to patient application ever more slowly. If the shortage continues unabated, some may not reach patient application at all, thus presenting a crisis in cancer research.
In an effort to confront the crisis arising from a growing dearth of physician-scientists, Damon Runyon wishes to encourage more physicians to pursue research careers. To do so, the Foundation established a program designed to recruit outstanding U.S. Specialty Board eligible physicians into cancer research careers by providing them with the opportunity for a protected research training experience under the mentorship of a highly qualified and gifted mentor after they have completed all of their clinical training. The goals are a) to transform these individuals into the highest quality physician-scientists, capable of conducting research that has the potential to transform the diagnosis, treatment and/or prevention of cancer and b) to eliminate the financial disincentive to entering this career path.
This award will provide a funding source that will enable these individuals to pursue research intensively (at least 80% effort) for up to four years, while, if they wish to maintain their clinical skills, continuing to be clinically active (no more than 20% effort). With the recognition that very few other funding sources (if any) exist to support these developing physician-scientists, this award is structured to provide recipients with significant salary support and necessary research expenses, with the expectation that their institutions will provide an environment and additional support (such as benefits and institutional overhead) to ensure their success.