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Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) program

NEW YORK, NY "This year marks the first year that the oldest members of the Baby Boomer generation turns 65. This milestone is an indication of the upcoming increase of older adults in the American population, and accompanying it will be an increase in their complex medical needs. We currently have a shortage of physicians specializing in geriatric medicine, leaving a gap that needs to be filled." states Stephanie Lederman, Executive Director of The American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR). "The Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) Program fosters an interest in geriatric medicine in the early stages of a physician's education. The MSTAR program aims to bridge the gap between the aging population and the doctors with the training to serve them by attracting more physicians to geriatric medicine and research.

The MSTAR Program is funded through a partnership between public and private sponsors. The major funders are The John A. Hartford Foundation, MetLife Foundation and the National Institute on Aging, with additional support provided by several other funders. MetLife Foundation joined the partnership in 2009 and has committed $220,000 to fund 45 students who will pursue training in geriatric medicine and age-related research, while an additional 97 medical students will receive financial support through the National Institute on Aging as part of AFAR's 2011 Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) Program.

The MSTAR Program gives these top-notch medical students the opportunity to participate in aging-related research, education, and clinical training programs at National Institute on Aging-funded national training centers and at some of the nation's top-tier research facilities and academic institutions. The short-term scholarships, ranging from 8 to 12 weeks, provide students with monthly stipends of approximately $1,750. The program is intended to introduce medical students to the rapidly growing field of geriatric medicine, and to stimulate their pursuit of long-term career paths in studying and treating age-related diseases and conditions.

While the number of programs offering fellowships in geriatric medicine has been increasing from 119 in 2000-2011 to 148 in 2009-2010 the number of doctors interested in geriatric fellowships is still low. In 2009-2010, for example, only 56% of all available first year geriatric fellowships were filled.1 The MSTAR Program was created to rectify this shortage in geriatric medical education, and since 1994 has trained a total of 1,599 students from over 100 medical schools throughout the United States. Students apply directly to AFAR, which dispenses scholarships to students selected by a committee of top geriatricians.

"We are pleased to provide funding for activities that give physicians exposure to the important field of geriatric medicine in the early years of their medical training," said Dennis White, President and CEO of MetLife Foundation. "We support AFAR's effort to attract more physicians to the field at a time when the need for age-related health practitioners is reaching a critical phase."

"My experience was truly outstanding," says Kimberly Churbock, a recent graduate of the MSTAR Program. "I was interested in working with older patients before participating in MSTAR, but now I feel much better equipped to do so, as a scholar, researcher, and as a future clinician. The research, didactic, and clinical components of the program together amounted to an unparalleled experience in geriatric medicine."


Contact: Ashby Andrews
American Federation for Aging Research

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