Ph.D.s in Clinical Research

Ph.D.-trained scientists are now fulfilling a wide set of roles in medical education and research (Miller, 2001). As such, they are shouldering a significant portion of work within the clinical research enterprise. Ph.D.-trained faculty in clinical departments contribute substantially to teaching, especially during the first two years of medical school. Their contribution to the research conducted by the clinical departments to which they belong has also become significant. Moreover, through their collaborative and principal investigator efforts, they fulfill important mentoring roles for clinical research trainees. Undoubtedly these scientists will continue to be part of clinical departments, especially at research-intensive academic health centers. In this regard, leaders in the field have underscored the need for alternative career tracks for these faculty members, as well as greater job stability to compensate them for their contributions. Clinical research teams of the future will likely continue to draw on Ph.D.-trained researchers. The evaluation of clinical research training programs has been proposed in previous reports (IOM, 1994; NIH, 1997; Wolf, 2002).

Other Investigators

Of the approximate 4,000 dental graduates each year in the United States, 1.5 percent express interest in academia and less than 0.2 percent are interested in research (Juliano and Oxford, 2001; Stashenko et al., 2002). U.S. dental schools report challenges in filling academic positions (Stashenko et al., 2002). Efforts to increase interest in dental research early on as well as dental research training programs are needed.

The shortage of pharmacists is a challenge as well for the clinical research enterprise. Federal pharmacy positions have experienced dramatically rising vacancy rates in recent years, reaching 11 percent in the U.S. Public Health Service and 15-18 percent in the armed forces (HRSA, 2000). In the late 1990s the number of pharmacy graduates declined, with a corresponding decline in the number of applications to pharmacy schools; in 1999 the number of applications was 33 percent lower than it had been in 1994, which was the past decade’s high point (HRSA, 2000). The demand for pharmaceutical care services has grown more rapidly in the past decade. Two major components of the increase in demand have become increasingly apparent, demonstrated by (1) the increased vacancy rates and difficulties in hiring, and (2) the demand for pharmaceutical care services

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