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Physician Scientist Training Program gets new director, direction

Dr. Rebecca Phaëton, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and of microbiology and immunology at Penn State College of Medicine and a Penn State Cancer Institute researcher, has been named director of the Penn State Physician Scientist Training Program. She will lead the transformation of the program, which aims to develop the next generation of physician scientists to understand disease and create novel therapies.

The program began in 2017 under the direction of Dr. Valerie Brown, professor of pediatrics and Penn State Cancer Institute researcher, to train and build a community of residents and fellows interested in pursuing research careers. Phaëton hopes to expand the program to include junior faculty, medical and MD/PhD students. She also will work with the program’s advisory board to develop various tracks of the program to reflect a variety of research disciplines and interests. The new version of the program will launch in late September.

“Some clinicians may not think of themselves as scientists because they aren’t in a laboratory using pipettes,” Phaëton said. “Our hope is to identify physicians with a broad range of interests – from big data and bioinformatics to industry and innovation – and connect them with appropriate training opportunities and mentorship so they can be a successful researcher.”

In addition to Phaëton’s appointment, an advisory board will provide trainees with a breadth of experience and new ideas to help them succeed in their research training. Members of the board include:

“There’s an untapped reservoir of resources here at Penn State,” said Phaëton. “We want to combine the experience of our senior faculty with the fresh perspectives of junior faculty so our trainees will have the wisdom and expertise they need to thrive in today’s academic medicine environment.”

Phaëton began her career as an assistant professor at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and the College of Medicine in September 2014.  She is a co-investigator on a number of clinical trials, a National Institutes of Health-funded researcher and is an active member of local and national committees and organizations.

“We are excited to have Dr. Phaëton lead the Penn State Physician Scientist Training Program — a program that provides outstanding research training opportunities for students, residents, fellows and junior faculty,” said Dr. Leslie Parent, vice dean for research and graduate studies. “I look forward to working with her and the steering committee to support and nurture the next generation of physician scientists who will make discoveries that will enhance health for all.”

Learn more about the Penn State Physician Scientist Training Program by visiting this webpage or contacting

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