another three to five years or more of residency training—again, typically with meager opportunities or exposure to clinical research.
Just this weekend I spoke to a young woman who is completing her endocrinology fellowship. I asked her what she was planning to do next. She responded that much to her surprise she planned to pursue a career in clinical research. She said, “Through all my years of medical school and residency, no one ever mentioned or spoke of the possibility of a research career. I was never exposed to it, never thought of it. Perhaps if I did, I would have planned better and done things somewhat differently.”
So the question is, is her experience typical? Do these perceived differences affect women differentially? How early can clinical societies reach trainees? What can clinical societies do to foster women’s interest in clinical research earlier? Can what appear to be structural problems be addressed?
Before going on, let me introduce our distinguished panel. Dr. Sue Shafer is deputy director, Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research, and former deputy director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. Her current interests include biomedical research policy, biomedical ethics, the responsible conduct of research, and enhancing the careers in science of women and minorities.
Dr. Herbert Pardes is president and chief executive officer of New York Presbyterian Hospital and its health care system. Dr. Pardes served as U.S. assistant surgeon general and director of the National Institutes of Mental Health during the Carter and Reagan administrations, and has served as vice president for health sciences at Columbia University and dean of the faculty of medicine of Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Pardes has overseen major changes in the education of physicians and enhanced clinical and basic science research. He also has assumed a national role as an advocate for education, health care reimbursement reform, and support of biomedical research.
Finally, but certainly not least, Dr. Jeanne Sinkford is professor and dean emeritus of the Howard University College of Dentistry. Dr. Sinkford has the distinction of being the first woman to serve as chair of a major department in a school of dentistry and was the first African American woman dentist inducted into the USA section of the International College of Dentists. Since 1991, she has been director of the Office of Women and Minority Affairs of the American Association of Dental Schools.
I’m going to ask our panel to consider the differences between basic and clinical research pathways, and their ramifications. There is a difference between how long the pathways take, and how direct the pathways are. There’s also a difference in community. Those in graduate training are part of a community of researchers. When those in M.D. training suddenly decide to go into research, they don’t have that history of collaboration or community to bring with them. And then there are differences in mentorship and also perhaps in financial encumbrances. So I would like to start by asking our panel to reflect on some of these