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Fostering Research

Jussi J. Saukkonen's commentary (The Scientist, April 13, 1992, page 12) suggests that M.D.-Ph.D. programs "should be regarded as an `insurance premium' paid to protect our substantial research investment," and that such programs can make "the student's commitment to long-term training financially feasible." I believe that this approach begs the question of how to encourage bright students to make biomedical research their career, especially given the statement in the same commentary that such

Bruce Stanley
Jussi J. Saukkonen's commentary (The Scientist, April 13, 1992, page 12) suggests that M.D.-Ph.D. programs "should be regarded as an `insurance premium' paid to protect our substantial research investment," and that such programs can make "the student's commitment to long-term training financially feasible."

I believe that this approach begs the question of how to encourage bright students to make biomedical research their career, especially given the statement in the same commentary that such programs "were never intended to provide the full complement of manpower for medical research."

The "full complement of manpower" can be ensured only by providing hope for at least a somewhat secure financial picture to all prospective scientists.

Most Ph.D. scientists love the intellectual challenge of research and the possibility of contributing to understanding, preventing, and healing diseases. Personal financial gain and security cannot be primary motivators, as most scientists earn considerably less than what they could...

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