A unique program at the University of Texas Medical Branch has won a national award for innovations in research training and education.

The program, a joint effort of several UTMB groups, the Institute for Translational Sciences, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and the School of Medicine, was recognized by the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The program emphasizes collaboration between scientists and clinicians with the goal of benefiting patients’ health. Specifically, students training to be researchers study side-by-side with medical students so that each group will better work together to conduct effective translational research.

The UTMB Human Pathophysiology and Translational Medicine program in the GSBS is headed by Dr. Mark Hellmich. The Translational Medicine Track in the School of Medicine was developed collaboratively with Drs. Judy Aronson and Gustavo Valbuena.

“Drs. Hellmich, Aronson and Valbuena have created a truly innovative approach that helps graduate students and medical students learn to work as a team from the very start of their professional education,” said Dr. Danny Jacobs, executive vice president and provost, and dean of the School of Medicine.

This was the first year for the AAMC Award for Innovations in Research Training and Education. The AAMC website states that the award is to “identify bright spots in research training and education.”

The judges said that UTMB’s program was selected to be honored because the program fosters an active learning community led by “an interdisciplinary faculty team, who ensure alignment between the program’s educational philosophy, inquiry-based instructional methods, assessment and mentorship.”

The judges included national leaders in research, education and training from AAMC member institutions as well as AAMC staff. Other institutions that won awards were Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, University of Florida College of Medicine, Penn State College of Medicine and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.