TORONTO — Weizmann Science Canada and University of Toronto have partnered to raise funds and draw attention to both their MD/PhD programs and to pay tribute to Dr. Arnold Aberman for his many contributions to academic medicine.
On Nov 3, a gala dinner will be held at the Sheraton Centre Hotel in Toronto in hopes of raising $3 million for scholarship support of the MD/PhD programs at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, and at Uof T.
U of T has had the program in place since 1984, but Weizmann, regarded as one of the best bioscience graduate schools, is introducing its “PhD for MDs” program to coincide with Weizmann’s Feinberg Graduate School’s 50th anniversary this year.
The programs are designed to provide physicians with the opportunity to obtain PhD degrees and scientists with the opportunity to obtain MD degrees to help bridge the gap between clinical practice and research.
“It’s important on one hand to have physicians who are thoroughly schooled in modern bioscience and it is important to have biomedical scientists who understand medicine,” said Aberman, a Montreal native, who is a professor at U of T and helps to promote the MD/PhD programs in Canada and Israel.
Throughout Aberman’s career that has spanned across four decades, he has served as physician-in-chief of Mount Sinai Hospital, physician-in-chief of Toronto General Hospital, U of T’s chair of the department of medicine, and U of T’s dean of the faculty of medicine.
Aberman said that when he was approached by Weizmann representatives last year about organizing a fundraising effort for its MD/PhD program in his honour, he suggested that they team up with U of T.
“I thought it would be good if the Weizmann, a premier, first class, Israeli academic institution with strong graduate programs would partner with the University of Toronto, a first class Canadian institution with outstanding graduate programs. I thought it would be a good partnership and that many people in Toronto would want to participate in such a joint venture,” he said.
According to an information brochure provided by U of T and Weizmann, the participants work with senior scientists on important research questions and often make significant scientific discoveries. The degrees are obtained in an average of seven years.
“The goal of this combined degree program is to train the most talented students available for careers as physician scientists,” founding director of U ofT’s MD/PhD program Mel Silverman wrote. “Nearly 25 years later, with an enrolment of 39 students and 32 graduates, our program remains pre-eminent in Canada and our graduates are assuming leadership positions nationally and internationally in both academic medicine and in various health research capacities.”
Aberman, who actively promotes the importance of providing funding to cover the cost of tuition and compensation for the participants’ loss of income, said he was flattered that the school wanted to honour him for his many achievements and is looking forward to the event.
He said the evening will consist of a video screening, and Aberman himself will address the guests.
He said the guests will “have to wait and see” what he’ll be speaking about but hinted that he will present information about the concept and goal of the MD/PhD program and about both academic institutions.
“I’m happy that today, with the discussion of some people advocating boycotts of Israeli institutions, I’m happy that U of T is openly partnering with Israeli institutions.”
For more information, call U of T at 416-978-7142 or Weizmann Science Canada at 416-733-9220.