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Rebecca Harmon
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February 5, 2003

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine Selected by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as Site for its Clinical Scholars Program

Penn is one of 4 sites nationwide to be competitively selected as a training site

(Philadelphia, PA) - The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine has been selected to serve as a training site for the Clinical Scholars Program of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), beginning in 2005. For each of the two years of the Penn-based program, eight Scholars will be trained in all aspects of health services research. In addition, up to four Scholars will be selected each year for a third year of training.

Begun 31 years ago as the first competitive national program of the Foundation, the Clinical Scholars Program helps young physicians acquire new skills and training in the quantitative and qualitative sciences underlying health services research -- including epidemiology, biostatistics, economics, anthropology, sociology, communications, policy analysis, and health systems. To date, more than 900 physicians have participated in the program, which offers two years of graduate-level study and research as part of a university-based, post-residency training program. Many of the program's graduates have attained leadership positions in academic medicine, the government, and private industry.

"What's especially exciting about the RWJ Clinical Scholars Program moving forward is its focus on leadership training - including faculty training for participating sites - and the opportunities for community-based participatory research and primary data collection," said Jeane Ann Grisso, MD, MSc, senior program officer at The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "We believe that these new areas of development will be especially attractive to the new scholars."

"Our curriculum is innovative, comprehensive and challenging," said Harold I. Feldman, MD, MSCE, Co-Director of the Penn Clinical Scholars Program, and Associate Professor of Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology in the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "The elements that will characterize the Penn Clinical Scholars Program include a strong, multi-disciplinary mentorship; individualized training within a common, structured curriculum in health services research and health policy; and scholar-initiated research experiences developed and conducted in partnership with community organizations."

"Penn scholars will acquire significant research competencies and be encouraged to think creatively about research problems and future career paths that offer the potential to improve the health of the public," added J. Sanford Schwartz, MD, also Co-Director, and Professor of Medicine and Health Management & Economics in Penn's School of Medicine. "Scholar training will be centered around community-based and policy-relevant research designed to inform community-based interventions and health policy. In addition, Scholars will be trained in leadership, communication and advocacy skills, and will interact with public and private-sector health policy and healthcare delivery leaders to better understand their needs and perspectives."

"Our location in a rich multi-cultural urban environment will contribute to providing ideal training for the new Scholars beyond traditional academic boundaries," said Dr. Arthur H. Rubenstein, Executive Vice President of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System and Dean of the School of Medicine. "By partnering with important community groups and strong clinical affiliates, our Scholars will gain a rigorous training foundation that should lead, in turn, to the development of policy-relevant research designed to improve community health."

In addition to collaborative activities with the other schools within the University of Pennsylvania, the Clinical Scholars Program at Penn will include The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) as its neighboring clinical partners.

"This program will enhance our ability to train leaders to impact health policy for children at a local, state and national level," said Steven M. Altschuler, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of CHOP. Leading the CHOP portion of the Penn Clinical Scholars Program will be Donald F. Schwarz, MD, MPH, who serves as Vice Chair and Associate Professor of Pediatrics in the Department of Pediatrics at Penn's School of Medicine and Chief of Adolescent Medicine at CHOP. A former Clinical Scholar, Schwartz will lead the community partnership advocacy initiatives for the program.

Joshua Metlay, MD, PhD, Research Associate and Staff Physician at the Philadelphia VAMC, will have primary responsibility for the Veterans' Clinical Scholars component. "Our highly respected post-doctoral training programs in health services research, medical informatics and general internal medicine will provide valuable collaborations and research opportunities," said Michael J. Sullivan, Medical Center Director.

Ten community organizations committed to partnering with Penn in the conduct of the Clinical Scholars Program include: Covenant House, a shelter for homeless and runaway youth; the Injury Free Coalition, dedicated to reducing the high rate of preventable injuries among youth in West Philadelphia; the Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the elderly (PACE), a means-tested, pharmaceutical-assistance program for elderly Pennsylvanians; the Mayor's Commission on Literacy, which provides quality literacy education to adults; the Philadelphia Health Management Corporation (PHMC), a public-health organization that provides direct services to children, adolescents, families and the homeless; St. Agnes LIFE (Living Independently for Elders), which provides comprehensive care to the elderly with the principal goal of maintaining independent living; The City of Philadelphia; the Treatment Research Institute, dedicated to reducing the effects of alcohol and other drug abuse; United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania; and Maternity Care Coalition (MCC), which sponsors programs aimed at prenatal care, parenting skills, health literacy and early Head Start.

The three other top-ranked medical schools selected to serve as Clinical Scholars sites include: David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, University of Michigan Medical School, and Yale University School of Medicine.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, based in Princeton, NJ, is the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care. It concentrates its grantmaking in four goal areas: to assure that all Americans have access to quality health care at reasonable cost; to improve the quality of care and support for people with chronic health conditions; to promote healthy communities and lifestyles; and to reduce the personal, social and economic harm caused by substance abuse - tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs.

PENN Medicine, dedicated to the integrated missions of medical education, biomedical research, and quality patient care, consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System (created in 1993 as the nation's first integrated academic health system). Today, Penn's School of Medicine is ranked #4 in the nation in U.S. News & World Report's most recent ranking of top research-oriented medical schools; and ranked #2 in the nation for receipt of NIH research funds. It supports 1400 fulltime faculty and 700 students and is recognized world-wide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician/scientists and leaders of academic medicine. Penn's Health System consists of four owned hospitals (including its flagship Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, rated one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report); a faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; three multispecialty satellite facilities; a regional network of subspecialists; and home healthcare, hospice and long-term care providers.

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