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Program Overview

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the Burroughs Welcome Foundation (BWF), and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have partnered to create the Physician Scientist Incubator Program (PSIP).  The current goal of the PSIP is to enrich the pool of MD/DO only (rather than MD/PhD) physicians who lead basic science research laboratories. The PSIP was designed to build the capacity of trainees to do innovative biomedical research and to translate research advances to the prevention, treatment, and understanding of the disease.

Accepted applicants will be named BWF Scholars.  All Scholars will become part of a robust community of physician-scientists within the University of Pittsburgh.  In addition to mentoring and executive coaching, BWF Scholars will take part in bi-monthly events held exclusively for the PSIP.  These will include both biomedical and professional development classes.  Our goal is to provide the best experience for our Scholars in preparation for their physician-scientist career.

Program Features

Trainees can apply to the PSIP during residency or fellowship, from PGY-1 onwards.  Scholars conduct a minimum of 1 (generally at least 2) years of committed pre-clinical research with a physician-scientist mentor (self-identified or with PSIP guidance).  Clinical work is limited to a maximum of 8 hours per week during those years.   Although many of the activities and support from the PSIP are concentrated during the research years, mentoring and the initiation of individualized career and research development plans begin upon appointment to the program.   Benefits beyond the research years are planned and customized through this process. 

Program Curriculum

BWF Scholars will optimize their skills through the core curriculum of the PSIP.  Regular PSIP workshops will cover core research topics as well as professional development, resiliency, productivity, and leadership strategies and exercises.

Personal and Professional Development

  • The goal of this part of the curriculum is to maximize agency in strategically designing a career coherent with personal values and intrinsic and evolving strengths.  Workshops focus on intrinsic skill-building, career development resources, and practical milestones, such as financial planning and negotiating positions.
  • BWF Scholars are assigned individual professional Career Coaches to maximize work-life balance, strategic planning, and non-cognitive skills for career development.

Foundational Investigatory and Scientific Skills

  • We recognize that most Scholars will have a prior engagement with basic research and will continue to build foundational scientific knowledge and technical skills in their mentor’s laboratories and, in some instances, research residency and T32-directed training.  
  • A PSIP biostatistics course encompassing laboratory and clinical-based problem sets will enrich experimental design and analysis skills.  
  • Writing group, work-in-progress meetings, and mock study sections feature group discussion of abstracts, manuscripts, grant proposals, and feedback on hypothesis testing, experimental design and analysis and data representation.
  • BWF Scholars will participate in a yearly scientific retreat featuring expert speakers, workshops, and trainee presentations. 

Program Support

The PSIP provides:

  • PGY-equivalent research stipend during research years (for those not receiving support from F- or T-32 grants)
  • Time management support aimed at personal time-saving services to assist with work-life balance management (support offered through a contracted concierge service)
  • Travel support for conference and course attendance
  • Training Related Expenses (TRE) support (books, lab supplies, and reagents)
  • Eligibility for technician support on return to clinical training post research (additional application required)