In what was almost a festival of dangerous ideas President of the US Endocrine Society Dick Santen offered some controversial solutions to the challenges facing young endocrinologists and researchers.
Speaking at the inaugural joint US Endocrine and ESA symposium on how to empower the next generation of endocrinologists Santen said there was no doubt young trainees had an exciting future to look forward to.
There was the application of stem cell technology, the cure for type 1 diabetes and endocrine dependent cancers, and the translation of genetic findings to patient care, Santen told delegates.
However there was a need to recognise the challenges facing the next generation of endocrinologists, at least from the perspective of senior leaders in endocrinology, he said.
Young clinical researchers were currently competing for limited research funding and were often not recognised for their achievements.
For clinical practitioners in the US the challenges were in transitioning to hospital based practice and the demands for greater clinical efficiencies.
Both groups had the challenges of meeting competing responsibilities and finding the time for continuing education.
“Now is the time to find solutions to these challenges and find ways to attract them into this highly promising and attractive field,” he said.
A solution to address the issue of grant funding could be to adopt the African model of firstly deciding the number of people you want to fund in your country.
For example if you wanted to fund 3,100 per year then you could train twice that number of people so that the possibility of a grant would be about 50 percent.
“To do that you have to do what we don’t like to do so much in the United States and that’s to identify early on who the really good people are,” he told delegates.
“It’s intelligence, it’s motivation, it’s track record and work ethic,” he said.
A lack of recognition could be addressed by establishing regional meetings where only the next generation present work orally, appointing next generation endocrinologists to Endocrine Society committees and task-forces and founding a Nex Gen organisation, he suggested.
“Only by a comprehensive approach which addresses all of the needs of Nex-Gen members can we overcome a potential crisis in the future where our societies become predominantly composed of older members,” he said.