San Antonio is known for collaboration and mutual support in the life science sector. The Translational Science (TS) PhD degree program is one such example. A joint degree program between the UT Health San Antonio, UTSA, and UT Austin (the degree-granting institutions) and the UT School of Public Health (as a collaborating institution), the TS PhD degree program was established and approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in 2011 as a 72 credit-hour joint degree program. Through collaboration between these 4 institutions, students receive an education that prepares them to be top-notch research scientists, able to integrate information from multiple domains and conduct independent and team-oriented research to improve human health. The program provides an opportunity for multi-disciplinary, integrated learning within the biomedical sciences. The structure of the program also allows for rapid incorporation of new medical science findings and areas of research.
Forty-five students have enrolled in the TS PhD Program thus far. These students represent an array of disciplines and participate in courses at all four collaborating institutions. Eligible applicants to the TS PhD program hold a master’s or doctorate degree in a health-related field or are currently enrolled in a MD/PhD Program. TS PhD graduate students had the following degrees prior to entering the TS PhD Program: Masters (18), MD (10), PharmD (6), MPH (6), DDS (2), PhD (1), JD (1), and AuD (1). Sixty-six percent of participants have ties to the U.S. military (e.g., active duty, reserves, contractors, retired), underscoring San Antonio’s strong commitment and collaboration with Military Medicine’s research and educational programs. Participants are diverse, with 34% from groups under-represented in science; and of those, 29% are Hispanic and 61% are women.
To date, the TS PhD students have published more than 300 peer-reviewed scientific papers, took part in more than 400 scientific presentations, received 174 awards, successfully competed for 57 grants, and have been awarded 4 patents. All TS PhD graduates (n=19 of 45) remain in research careers. It is believed that these outcomes are a direct reflection of the trainee selection process, subsequent programmatic emphasis on excellence in translational science, and the acquisition of skills needed for successful career development.