At NYIT, a new doctorate in the house (and first PhD)

Laboratory specimens: Research, along with medical practice, is the primary focus of NYIT's first-ever Doctor of Philosophy degree program.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

Doctor of Philosophy, we presume?

And at the New York Institute of Technology, we presume correctly, now that NYIT has introduced its first-ever PhD program, joining the ranks of higher-learning institutions offering the highest academic degree conferred by a university.

President Henry Foley on Friday announced that NYIT’s first Doctor of Philosophy degree program – realized through a combined Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)/Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Medical and Biological Sciences – will be available to ambitious learners starting in the 2019-2020 academic year.

As part of what NYIT is promoting as a “highly competitive” seven-year D.O./Ph.D. program, students will complete the same pre-clinical coursework taken by first- and second-year medical students. In years three through five, they will tackle PhD-level coursework in biomedical and anatomical systems and conduct in-depth research projects under the mentorship of a College of Osteopathic Medicine faculty member, leading to a doctoral thesis.

Upon completion of the 90 credits required to complete their PhD, students will fulfill the same clinical training required of third- and fourth-year COM students.

Foley, who succeeded former Provost and interim NYIT President Rahmat Shoureshi in June 2017, trumpeted “a landmark moment for NYIT.”

“It is a great opportunity for faculty to train new generations of clinical physicians who are fully invested in research that will advance medical science,” the president added.

Henry Foley: Research-driven.

Indeed, research is the main thrust of the new degree program, which is less about churning out practicing physicians than it is about creating “physician-scientists,” according to NYIT.

Noting that “many of today’s life-saving medical advancements can be traced to physician-scientists,” the institute points to recent National Institutes of Health studies that count only 14,000 doctors – among nearly 1 million practicing U.S. physicians – who consider research their primary focus.

Such numbers spell trouble for scientific research as a whole, says NYIT, which warns in its PhD announcement that “projected demand will exceed expected supply” and “medical innovation is in danger of becoming stagnant.”

Enter the new Doctor of Philosophy degree program, which is designed specifically to even those odds, according to Jerry Balentine, dean of NYIT’s Old Westbury-based College of Osteopathic Medicine and the institute’s vice president of health sciences and medical affairs.

“This new degree program will assure a steady supply of highly skilled research physicians,” Balentine said in a statement, adding those new PhDs will “ensure that medicine continually evolves to solve our most pressing challenges.”


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