First 12 Clinical Scholars chosen to begin research program

Twelve UT Southwestern researchers have been chosen as the first young investigators to participate in the Clinical Scholars Program, a new UT Southwestern initiative designed to create the next generation of leaders in patient-oriented research.

Each scholar, with the support of his or her department, commits 75 percent of his or her time to an intense three-year educational and training program to prepare for a career as an independent clinical investigator.

The program, administered by the Center for Biostatistics and Clinical Science, includes rigorous course work, an apprenticeship in an ongoing research project and the conduct of an independent research project, all leading to a master's degree in clinical science, said Dr. Milton Packer, director of the center.

"The goal is to create an environment where we can take people who have enormous energy, great ideas and the willingness to commit themselves to a career in clinical research and give them the support and tools they need to become independent, peer-review-funded clinical investigators," said Dr. Packer, who holds the Gayle and Paul Stoffel Distinguished Chair in Cardiology.

Seven of the 12 investigators in the inaugural group are Departmental Scholars, financially supported by their respective departments, while five researchers have been named Dean's Scholars, receiving first-year financial support from the Southwestern Medical School dean's office.

Clinical research is in danger of becoming a lost art, but it is vital to medicine, said Dr. Alfred Gilman, interim dean of Southwestern Medical School.

"Clinical research provides the scientific basis for the best patient care," he said. "It is difficult to do, intellectually and technically challenging, time-consuming, and very expensive. But it is critically important that it be done correctly, because the conclusions provide the standards for proper evidence-based clinical care."

Dr. Gilman said that clinicians interested in doing patient-oriented research often do not receive the type of training necessary to do the job.

"We train Ph.D. scientists to do basic biomedical research, and we need to provide rigorous training for academic clinicians who want to do patient-oriented research as well. This program meets that need," said Dr. Gilman, director of the Cecil H. and Ida Green Comprehensive Center for Molecular, Computational and Systems Biology and holder of the Nadine and Tom Craddick Distinguished Chair in Medical Science, the Raymond Willie and Ellen Willie Distinguished Chair in Molecular Neuropharmacology, in honor of Harold B. Crasilneck, Ph.D., and the Atticus James Gill, M.D., Chair in Medical Science.

Dr. Packer said the UT Southwestern Clinical Scholars program is special not only for its intensity and quality of training, but also because it represents a major institutional commitment to clinical research.

"This institution is essentially reaching into its own pocket to support this," Dr. Packer said. "We're not only making a commitment to these individuals, but they are making a commitment to the institution. These scholars will contribute importantly to a growing core of young investigators who will become the next leaders of clinical science at UT Southwestern."

Each year, at least seven new Clinical Scholars will be named. Applications will be accepted beginning in October, and a faculty selection committee, representing all the clinical departments, will review each person's materials. Information about the Center for Biostatistics and Clinical Science and the Clinical Scholar's Program is available on the Web at

The 2005 Clinical Scholars and their research interests are:

Dean's Scholars

Dr. Mary Ann Cameron, a postdoctoral trainee in internal medicine, earned her medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. She is studying the effects of insulin resistance on renal physiology, specifically on the development of acidic urine and uric acid stones.

Dr. Alice Chang, a postdoctoral trainee in internal medicine, earned her medical degree from Yale University School of Medicine. She is investigating the molecular and genetic basis of cardiovascular disease in women.

Dr. Subroto Ghose, assistant professor of psychiatry, earned his Ph.D. in biology from Georgetown University. His research focuses on the neuroscience of schizophrenia.

Dr. Heidi Jacobe, assistant professor of dermatology, earned her medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Her areas of interest include the genetics of psoriasis and ultraviolet light therapy for skin disease.

Dr. Charles Quinn, assistant professor of pediatrics, earned his medical degree from UT Southwestern. His research encompasses all aspects of sickle cell disease in childhood, including the natural history of the disease, predictors of outcome and clinical trials to improve therapy.

Departmental Scholars

Dr. Cindy Darnell
, assistant professor of pediatrics, earned her medical degree from the University of Louisville School of Medicine. Her research areas include the management of pain and sedation of critically ill children.

Dr. Randall Friese, assistant professor of surgery, earned his medical degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He is a trauma and critical care surgeon whose research interests involve the critically ill or injured patient, specifically cardiac morbidity and mortality in elderly trauma.

Dr. Rebeca Gracia, managing director of the North Texas Poison Center and a clinical instructor of emergency medicine, earned her PharmD from Texas Tech University School of Pharmacy. Her main research interests are bioterrorism agents, cyanide and experimental antidotes.

Dr. Janna Journeycake, assistant professor of pediatrics, received her medical degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. Her research interest is thromboembolic conditions in children, and she currently is focusing on the acute and long-term effects of the common problem of catheter-related thrombosis.

Dr. Ildiko Lingvay, postdoctoral trainee in internal medicine, earned her medical degree from Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Bucharest, Romania. Her research focuses on novel approaches to the evaluation of beta-cell function and on interventions to improve beta-cell function in non-insulin-dependent diabetics.

Dr. Carlos Timaran, assistant professor of surgery, earned his medical degree from the University of Cauca in Colombia. His research focuses on ethnic differences in the prevalence of peripheral arterial disease, as well as the risk factors, treatment and outcomes of patients with vascular diseases.

Dr. Jane Wigginton, assistant professor of surgery, received her medical degree from UT Southwestern. Her research areas include gender-related differences and oxidant injury in resuscitation and in cardiac arrest.