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Physician-Scientist Training Program Graduates First Student

Dr. Smith, a vascular surgery resident in the Heart, Vascular &Thoracic Institute, recently earned his PhD through Lerner Research Institute’s innovative physician-scientist training program.


Vascular surgery resident Andrew Smith, MD, is the first graduate of a novel physician-scientist training program at Cleveland Clinic called PRISM (Physician Researchers Innovating in Science and Medicine). Lerner Research Institute, in collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine and Case Western Reserve University, created the PRISM program in 2017, at which time Dr. Smith was the first student to enroll.

The program allows residents and fellows in ACGME-accredited medical training programs at Cleveland Clinic to pursue a PhD in molecular medicine. Participants conduct research in a basic or translational research laboratory for two years. To earn their PhD, students must also pass a qualifying exam and publish at least one first-author paper.

“I enrolled in the PRISM program because I am interested in basic and translational science and wanted to receive dedicated training in hypothesis-driven research,” Dr. Smith says. “The coursework and thesis requirements of the PRISM track provided a level of rigor, depth and structure that enriched my elective time in the lab.”

Dr. Smith completed his PhD research in the laboratory of Linda Graham, MD, a vascular surgeon and researcher in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. His thesis was titled, “The Effects of Canonical Transient Receptor Potential Channel Subtype-6 on Phenotypic Modulation of Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells and Arterial Healing Following Vascular Intervention.”

His work in the lab and thesis meshed perfectly with his career goals, he says. “Our work demonstrated that the protein TRPC6 modulates smooth muscle cell phenotype and proliferation after arterial injury following vascular procedures. My goal is ultimately to run a lab that contributes to the development of novel mechanism-based therapies to improve outcomes of vascular surgery.”

Six additional residents/fellows are currently enrolled in the PRISM program. For more information about the program, contact Christine Moravec, PhD, Director of Lerner Research Institute’s Research Education and Training Center.

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