Gateways to the Laboratory: How an MD–PhD Program Increased the Number of Minority Physician–Scientists
Traditional underrepresented minority (URM) groups (African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans) remain underrepresented among physician–scientists. To address the dearth of URM physician–scientists, in 1993 the Weill Cornell/Rockefeller/Sloan Kettering Tri-Institutional MD–PhD Program developed a pipeline program, Gateways to the Laboratory (Gateways), which focuses on increasing the breadth and depth of the URM physician–scientist pipeline by offering an all-encompassing summer research training program which mirrors the life of a physician–scientist. This includes hypothesis-driven research and clinical shadowing opportunities, coupled with weekly career development workshops and extensive multitiered mentoring. Among the 245 alumni who had “graduated” from Gateways as of 2013, 88% have pursued or completed advanced degrees. Among these, 74% completed or are pursuing MD, PhD, or MD–PhD degrees; and 17% completed or are pursuing combined MD–PhD degrees, over one-third of whom are enrolled in the Tri-Institutional MD–PhD Program. Gateways outcomes are compared to other programs with similar missions, which shows that Gateways has been successful at preparing URMs for MD–PhD Programs. The program serves as a model for how to increase the national pool of competitive URM MD–PhD applicants.