The American Federation for Medical Research (AFMR) will present a series of articles that address the challenges faced by academic medical centers and other institutions in developing medical scientists (see the accompanying introduction to the series on page 241). The goal of this series is to assist leaders at academic medical centers in addressing the challenges for training the next generation of health care investigators. In addition, we hope to educate junior investigators and trainees on the many issues that their facilitators and mentors face in developing adequate programs for training and career development.
Our first part of this series is an interview with Robert W. Schrier, MD. Dr. Schrier is a professor of medicine and was chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine for 26 years and head of the Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension for 20 years. Dr. Schrier's research accomplishments are enormous. He has had continuous funding for 35 years and has authored over 800 scientific papers and edited 45 books in renal medicine, geriatrics, drug use, and kidney disease. He is an acknowledged leader in academic medicine, as evidenced by his election to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and presidencies of the Association of American Physicians, the American Society of Nephrology, the National Kidney Foundation, and the International Society of Nephrology. Dr. Schrier is a master of the American College of Physicians and an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. In addition, he has received the highest awards of several national and international organizations.
However, it is not only the personal accomplishments of Dr. Schrier that led to his selection to take part in this series. Although those personal accomplishments are incredible, his work as a department chair, division chief, and research mentor may be greater. During Dr. Schrier's 26 years as chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Colorado, the full-time faculty increased from approximately 75 to 500. The annual research grants by the department's full-time faculty rose from approximately $3 to $100 million, including the faculties' contributions to the General Clinical Research and Cancer Centers. The housestaff and fellow training programs also became nationally prominent. Thirty endowed research chairs between $1.5 and $2.0 million each were established. Clearly, he is a visionary who can speak to the challenges facing the young medical scientists and their mentors today.
Dr. Schrier's responses to a series of questions follow.