Blacks Make Up a Small Percentage of MD/Ph.D. Student Matriculants

Physician scientists with both medical degrees and Ph.D.s are major contributors to the biomedical workforce. While they represent just 4 percent of medical school graduates in the United States, they receive around half of all the National Institutes of Health research funding awarded to physicians. However, the M.D.-Ph.D. population has historically lacked gender and racial/ethnic diversity. So in 2009, funding agencies began to tie financial support to diversity efforts. A new study led by researchers at Yale University examined whether those changes have made an impact. According to their findings, M.D.-Ph.D. programs have become more diverse, but there’s still room for improvement.

The researchers found that between 2009 and 2018, the percentage of underrepresented minority matriculants went from 9.8 percent in 2009 to 16.7 percent in 2018. But the majority of that change was led by Latinx/Hispanic populations, with Black and Native American populations experiencing lower increases.

Dowin Boatright, assistant professor of emergency medicine at Yale Medical School and senior author of the study, noted that “there’s still about 22 percent of programs that don’t have any underrepresented students matriculating. So I think even though we’ve had progress, there are ample opportunities for growth.”

Dr. Boatright earned his medical degree from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He holds an MBA from Rice University in Houston and a master’s degree in health from Yale University.

The full study, “Trends in U.S. MD-PhD Program Matriculant Diversity by Sex and Race/Ethnicity,” was published in the journal Academic Medicine. It may be accessed here.

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