There have long been calls to strengthen our nation’s pipeline of clinical researchers, and many in the Einstein/Montefiore community—students, fellows, and faculty—are ready to answer that call. Since its inception in 1998, the Clinical Research Training Program (CRTP)—the flagship M.S. degree-granting program of the Harold and Muriel Block Institute for Clinical and Translational Research at Einstein and Montefiore—has supported this effort through an educational approach that links classroom-based skills development with research guided by expert mentors.
Aileen McGinn, Ph.D.The CRTP recently began a new chapter when Dr. Paul Marantz, associate dean for clinical education, announced a change in the program’s leadership: Dr. Aileen McGinn, CRTP associate director since 2011, is now director, stepping into the new role as Dr. Ellie Schoenbaum, CRTP director for the past 10 years, shifts her focus to directing and expanding medical student research.
“Dr. McGinn assumes the role of director at an exciting time for the CRTP,” noted Dr. Marantz. “We’re in the process of considering how to build upon our past years’ successes to best respond to a changing research environment.” These changes include an increased appreciation of quantitative skills across the entire translational research spectrum, as well as the emergence of new research approaches such as patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR).
He added, “In her previous role as associate director, Aileen spearheaded curriculum revisions that have enhanced our scholars’ analytical skills, while serving as a much-appreciated teacher, tutor and guide. Our CRTP scholars have consistently credited her with playing a significant role in their research career development.”
“I welcome the challenge of reshaping the current curriculum to fit the needs of diverse learners with different backgrounds and goals,” said Dr. McGinn, who has been tasked with evaluating and revising the CRTP curriculum with an eye toward developing educational “tracks” that reflect the full range of clinical/translational research at Einstein and Montefiore, bench-to-bedside to PCOR.
While she will seek changes that can improve program offerings, Dr. McGinn assures that certain aspects of the program will remain. “Two strengths of our program that will stay the same are the individualized attention to each scholar and the practical experiences interspersed throughout the coursework,” said Dr. McGinn, who also is an epidemiological investigator and associate professor of clinical epidemiology & population health at Einstein.
Of her goals for the program she noted, “I look forward to building upon the strong foundation that Paul and Ellie have established. I’m also grateful that Ellie will continue leading the grant-writing course. She has been and will continue to be a strong, guiding influence in my own career development.”
Ellie Schoenbaum, M.D.Einstein medical students are remarkable in the breadth and depth of their scholarly pursuits. “We have a variety of research fellowships to support students to work with Einstein faculty here on campus or conduct global health research in resource- poor countries,” said Dr. Schoenbaum.
“Understanding where medical decision making comes from, given the research that drives it, is very important,” she explained “And having that research and paper on their CV enhances their future career opportunities.”
Dr. Schoenbaum is professor of epidemiology & population health, of medicine and of obstetrics & gynecology and women’s health at Einstein. She became CRTP director in 2006, building upon her distinguished 25-year career as an investigator and as a mentor in HIV/AIDS translational research at Montefiore.
Among her accomplishments, she oversaw major enhancements to the CRTP curriculum, most notably its innovative grant-writing program. She also strengthened its recruitment and career development efforts, coordinated the program with extramurally funded training efforts (including the Ph.D. in clinical investigation or eCLIPSE), and spearheaded the growth of the CRTP’s five-year M.D.-M.S. track for research-oriented medical students.
“Ellie has masterfully guided the CRTP, making a lasting impression on the countless scholars she has mentored,” observed Dr. Marantz. “And under her leadership and skillful mentoring, our medical student research program has increased remarkably in scope, rigor and impact. As our curriculum undergoes substantial revision, it’s exciting to contemplate the program’s future with Ellie as the guiding force for this important aspect of our students’ education.”
As director of medical student research, she has reinvigorated the “scholarly projects” requirement, developed new approaches to supporting student research fellowships and introduced and expanded programs for students including works-in-progress opportunities, expanded resources for finding mentors and data sources. She will continue directing the M.D.-M.S. track and the grant-writing program, and serving on the CRTP’s executive committee.
Her future goals include offering students more research opportunities given the new curriculum. This will ideally allow for more time to spend on their projects. She also hopes to facilitate students who are involved in community service and global health projects, in using their experiences for scholarly papers.
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