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Relief for the weary

Article / Review by on December 15, 2011 – 8:29 pmNo Comments

Relief for the weary
Shore Fellowships allow young researchers to focus on key needs

For Sunil Chauhan, an eye researcher at Harvard-affiliated Schepens Eye Research Institute and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, the Shore Fellowship means being able to hire an additional postdoctoral fellow to help in the lab. "This is a fantastic program," he said. "Now I can spend more time on writing."/ Photos by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff PhotographerFor Sunil Chauhan, an eye researcher at Harvard-affiliated Schepens Eye Research Institute and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, the Shore Fellowship means being able to hire an additional postdoctoral fellow to help in the lab. “This is a fantastic program,” he said. “Now I can spend more time on writing.”/ Photos by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Like many in her generation, Elizabeth Mullen has been juggling caring for elderly parents and small children. But unlike many, Mullen is a physician and a junior faculty member at Harvard Medical School, meaning she has to squeeze clinical work, teaching, and research into her schedule.

“Everyone has family care issues. Nobody’s sleeping at night [because of small children] while also dealing with rehab facilities [for elderly parents],” Mullen said. “There are lots of work-life balance issues.”

Luckily for Mullen, help is on the way. Mullen and 90 other instructors and junior faculty members at Harvard Medical School have received fellowships from the Eleanor and Miles Shore 50th Anniversary Fellowship Program for Scholars in Medicine. The program, established in 1995, was created to commemorate the half-century anniversary of the admission of women to Harvard Medical School. It recognizes that in today’s tough economic environment, where both partners in a relationship often work, the pressures of proving oneself as a junior faculty member come alongside the greatest demands on time from families.

“We were thrilled to see the breadth and depth of activities of this year’s Shore Fellows,” said Carol Bates, assistant dean for faculty affairs. “The Shore Fellowship celebration is a wonderful annual family event at which Dean Flier meets promising junior faculty representing our quadrangle and most of our affiliate hospitals and institutions.  We look forward to seeing the results of these projects as candidates come forward for promotion in the coming years.”

Mullen said she plans to use the fellowship’s resources to remove herself from clinical time so she can conduct more in-depth analysis of subgroups of patients, and prepare a manuscript for publication.Mullen said she plans to use the fellowship’s resources to remove herself from clinical time so she can conduct more in-depth analysis of subgroups of patients, and prepare a manuscript for publication./ Photos by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

It provides grants ranging between $25,000 and $50,000 that can help hire additional laboratory help or get protected time by easing clinical duties. Since its founding, the program has awarded 721 fellowships.

“It’s just extraordinarily special to have some recognition” of the demands on your time “and recognition that your family situation is part of who you are as a person,” Mullen said.

Mullen said she was recommended for the program by her clinical director, Lisa Diller, a professor of pediatrics and a physician at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, who was a Shore Fellow as an assistant professor.

Mullen, a specialist in child renal cancer, has been working to understand renal tumors and improve their treatment. She has conducted a study of the use of CT and MRI scans — which are expensive and require exposure to risky radiation — versus X-rays and ultrasounds in detecting a relapse in people with renal tumors. Preliminary results show that overall patient outcomes may not improve with the more advanced imaging, indicating that a lower-cost option may be preferable.

Mullen said she plans to use the fellowship’s resources to remove herself from clinical time so she can conduct more in-depth analysis of subgroups.

For Sunil Chauhan, an eye researcher at Harvard-affiliated Schepens Eye Research Institute and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, the Shore Fellowship means being able to hire an additional postdoctoral fellow to help in the lab.

Chauhan, who trained as a veterinarian and did postdoctoral work in immunology, is using mouse models to investigate inflammatory diseases of the eye, such as occur in dry eye, and regenerative therapies to treat them. Chauhan said he plans to use the Shore Fellowship to hire a postdoctoral fellow who can take on some of the laboratory work, so that Chauhan can concentrate on the months-long process of writing his first R01 grant — a major underpinning of many laboratory operations at Harvard — to the National Institutes of Health.

“This is a fantastic program. I was lucky to get it. Now I can spend more time on writing,” Chauhan said.

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About Harvard Medical School (HMS)

Driving Change. Building Momentum. Making History. 

Since 1872, Harvard Medical School has been the incubator of bold ideas—a place where extraordinary people advance education, science and health care with unrelenting passion.

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About Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH)

Harvard School of Public Health is dedicated to advancing the public’s health through learning, discovery and communication. More than 400 faculty members are engaged in teaching and training the 1,000-plus student body in a broad spectrum of disciplines crucial to the health and well being of individuals and populations around the world. Programs and projects range from the molecular biology of AIDS vaccines to the epidemiology of cancer; from risk analysis to violence prevention; from maternal and children’s health to quality of care measurement; from health care management to international health and human rights.

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*  The above story is adapted from materials provided by Harvard University

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