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$50M Perot family gift expands UT Southwestern’s Medical Scientist Training Program

Physician-scientist training connects laboratory discoveries to clinical treatment

(Left to right) Carolyn Perot Rathjen, Nancy Perot, the late Ross Perot, Sr., Margot Perot, Ross Perot, Jr., Suzanne Perot McGee, Katherine Perot Reeves

DALLAS – Nov. 04, 2022 – The Perot family, The Perot Foundation, and The Sarah and Ross Perot, Jr. Foundation have provided a transformative $50 million endowment for UT Southwestern’s Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP), among the nation’s elite programs that provide graduates a dual M.D./Ph.D. degree to strengthen the advancement of laboratory discoveries into the clinical arena.

Funding will provide a permanent endowment for the Perot Family Scholars Medical Scientist Training Program – one of just 54 M.D./Ph.D. training programs in the country supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The program is celebrating its 40th anniversary of graduating top-level physician-scientists from UT Southwestern Medical School and UT Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, both among the top-ranked schools nationally.

Sarah and Ross Perot, Jr.

“This extraordinary gift provides a permanent foundation at UT Southwestern for this distinctive dual-degree program that will not only benefit top UT Southwestern students, but also help address a disturbing national trend in the diminishing number of fully trained physician-scientists,” said Daniel K. Podolsky, M.D., President of UT Southwestern Medical Center. “The Perot family’s beneficent support further cements their historical commitment to the continuous advancement of academic medicine and its benefits.”

UT Southwestern’s faculty includes a number of distinguished physician-scientists with the dual degree, including the late Nobel Laureate Alfred G. Gilman, M.D., Ph.D., former Dean of UT Southwestern Medical School; three of UT Southwestern’s 18 members of the National Academy of Medicine; and two of UT Southwestern’s 14 Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigators.

“Ross was an enthusiastic supporter of the Medical Scientist Training Program because he considered it to be one of our best investments in people and intellect,” Margot Perot said. “Our family is delighted to sustain our support and association with the MSTP program. We know that it will yield enormous rewards in the years to come. We are certain our funds will go far to train young scientists destined to make significant medical breakthroughs in the future.” 

The Perot Family Scholars program builds on a legacy that Ross and Margot Perot invested in for the past four decades, starting in 1987 with a $20 million gift supporting Nobel Laureates Michael Brown, M.D., and Joseph Goldstein, M.D., and the Medical Scientist Training Program, followed by more than $23 million in additional support in 1996 for training and biomedical research. In addition, the Perot family has generously supported the Perot Foundation Neuroscience Translational Research Center, mental health programs, and veterans research, including groundbreaking research by Robert Haley, M.D., on Gulf War Syndrome. 

“I think the Perot family’s contribution is, as it was back in the 1980s, enormously forward-looking,” Dr. Brown said. “This latest gift will make it possible for us to produce a whole new generation of physician-scientists who will then go on to develop new cures and ultimately the means to prevent many diseases.”

Since its launch in 1978, UT Southwestern’s M.D./Ph.D. program has graduated nearly 300 physician-scientists with approximately 75% going on to faculty positions at academic medical centers, including many prestigious institutions such as Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Stanford, in addition to UT Southwestern. Twenty-four of the graduates serve on the faculty at UT Southwestern, where they train the next generation of physician-scientists. UT Southwestern Medical School is ranked among the top 25 in the U.S. for research and in the top 20 for primary care nationwide by U.S. News & World Report. Only six institutions in the country rated above UTSW in both categories, and UTSW has nationally rated programs in the UT Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, including ranking 25th nationally in Biology.

The Perot family’s support will expand the number of students admitted to the dual-degree program as well as research disciplines in which they study, to include biomedical engineering, computational biology, bioinformatics, and data science. The investment also will enhance the curriculum and experiences of MSTP students and increase efforts to recruit students from elite U.S. colleges, including top international students who wish to stay in the U.S. for their careers. 

MSTP Research Success 

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) bridges the gap between basic science and clinical research by providing both graduate training in the biomedical sciences and clinical training offered through medical schools. A 2014 report by the NIH Physician-Scientist Workforce (PSW) Working Group, which included Helen H. Hobbs, M.D., Professor of Internal Medicine at UTSW and an HHMI Investigator, identified a need to strengthen the biomedical workforce. In the past three decades, the proportion of physicians engaged in research has declined to approximately 1.5% of the overall physician workforce, according to the Physician-Scientist Support Foundation.

Studies from the NIGMS show that NIH MSTP graduates are more likely to have performed both research and clinical postdoctoral training, to hold academic appointments, to publish more, and to receive research support. Three-quarters of MSTP graduates who applied were successful in obtaining NIH support, for example. 

UT Southwestern is ranked No. 1 among global health care institutions in the 2022 Nature Index for its published research and among the top 20 for global academic life sciences institutions. UTSW faculty includes four active Nobel Laureates, 24 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 18 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 14 HHMI Investigators.

Dr. Brown holds The W. A. (Monty) Moncrief Distinguished Chair in Cholesterol and Arteriosclerosis Research, and the Paul J. Thomas Chair in Medicine. Dr. Goldstein holds the Julie and Louis A. Beecherl, Jr. Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Research, and the Paul J. Thomas Chair in Medicine. Dr. Haley holds the U.S. Armed Forces Veterans Distinguished Chair for Medical Research, Honoring Robert Haley, M.D., and America's Gulf War Veterans. Dr. Hobbs holds the Eugene McDermott Distinguished Chair for the Study of Human Growth and Development, the Philip O'Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Chair in Developmental Biology, and the 1995 Dallas Heart Ball Chair in Cardiology Research. Dr. Podolsky holds the Philip O'Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration, and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.

About UT Southwestern Medical Center

UT Southwestern, one of the nation’s premier academic medical centers, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 24 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 18 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 14 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The full-time faculty of more than 2,900 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in more than 80 specialties to more than 100,000 hospitalized patients, more than 360,000 emergency room cases, and oversee nearly 4 million outpatient visits a year.