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Fall 2008, Issue 9

TUSM and Maine Medical Center
New Education and Research Affiliation

Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM) in Boston and Maine Medical Center (MMC) in Portland have embarked on a unique affiliation to educate physicians. The program has been co-developed by TUSM and MMC and will be co-governed by the two institutions, and it will feature a new "Maine track" that will provide expanded educational opportunities for students from Maine. Graduates of the Maine track will receive a combined diploma from MMC and TUSM. The affiliation leverages strengths at both institutions and will efficiently bring premier medical education into Maine.

The first class of students will enroll in the Maine track in the fall of 2009. They will be recruited by TUSM as well as MMC, with at least 20 of the 36 positions reserved for Maine residents or students attending colleges in Maine, adjacent New England states, or states similar to Maine. Students will spend their first two years at TUSM, then move to MMC for the clerkship period in year three and portions of the monthly rotations in year four. MMC will have a dedicated dean and staff for the program.

The curriculum will be developed and taught by TUSM and MMC faculty, and it will emphasize rural and small-town practice. Students in the Maine track will also have the option of pursuing dual degrees, such as the MD/MBA, MD/PhD, and MD/MPH. Program planners expect a portion of Maine-track graduates to continue their training in the well-established MMC residency and fellowship programs, and eventually increase the number of physicians who establish practices in Maine and similar rural states.

The new affiliation will expand collaboration opportunities for both institutions. The Maine Medical Center Research Institute (MMCRI) has basic science and clinical science programs. The Center for Molecular Medicine includes the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) in Vascular Biology and the COBRE in Stem and Progenitor Cell Biology. Clinical science programs include Clinical and Translational Research, the Center for Psychiatric Research, and the Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation. Information provided below was obtained from the MMCRI’s website http://www.mmcri.org.

The COBRE in Vascular Biology focuses on molecular mechanisms that regulate vascular development and remodeling after injury, mechanisms of inflammation, and angiogenesis. Projects include the regulation of fibrosis in the vasculature; signaling pathways controlling the growth of malignant cells and tumor vessel formation; the transforming growth factor–beta signaling pathway in vascular development; the pathway for the secretion of the inflammatory mediator interleukin-1; and a system to examine the role of lipid metabolism in cardiac function.

The COBRE in Stem and Progenitor Cell Biology focuses on key molecular mechanisms that govern cell renewal, lineage fate, and directed differentiation. Projects include a novel renal progenitor cell pool with potential regenerative properties; development of both hematopoietic and endothelial progenitor cells from human embryonic stem cells; Wnt signaling co-factors with therapeutic activities (eg, bone development); chromosomal fragility; and mechanisms of transcriptional repression in hematopoietic stem cells.

Clinical and Translational Research at the MMCRI supports the translation of basic science into clinical applications by building and supporting a centralized research infrastructure and by strengthening ties between basic science research and clinical science research. Major translational projects include studies of oxidative stress in chronic renal failure; the relationship between bone formation and marrow fat in osteoporosis; and the effect of acute stress on sex steroid metabolism.

The Center for Psychiatric Research has several projects underway. The Portland Identification and Early Referral (PIER) Program is one of the nation’s first community-based, early intervention programs for youth at risk for serious mental illness. A study of “ExerLearning” in Maine middle schools involves a collaboration with Maine public schools and one of the makers of a computer-driven dance game to integrate exercise into each child’s school day. Outcomes will focus on changes in levels of physical activity, weight loss, and academic achievement.

The Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation performs original research in health services, outcomes research, and randomized trials; conducts independent evaluations; assists in evaluation activities; assists in medical education programs; and provides research design and statistical consultation. Original research includes the utilization of medicare administrative data to answer research questions; practice-based intervention trials of depression care and tobacco treatment; the design and evaluation of decision support tools for patients and physicians; and evaluation of local and statewide programs for genetic counseling for patients with familial cancer syndromes.

For more information on Maine Medical Center, please go to http://www.mmcri.org.

For more information on the Maine track at TUSM, please contact Emily Condon, assistant director of admissions at TUSM (Emily.Condon@tufts.edu (617) 636-6571), or Bob Bing-You, associate vice president for medical education at MMC (BINGYB@mmc.org (207) 662-7060).

For more information on the Maine Medical Center Research Institute, please go to http://www.mmcri.org or contact Kenneth Ault, associate vice president for research (aultk@mmc.org or (207) 885-8121).

For more information on research at TUSM, please go to http://www.tufts.edu/sackler/index.html or contact Naomi Rosenberg, dean of the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences (Naomi.Rosenberg@Tufts.edu or (617) 636-2143).



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