Yokoyama named director of Medical Scientist Training Program

Wayne M. Yokoyama, M.D., is the new director of the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The appointment went into effect July 1.

Wayne Yokoyama
Wayne Yokoyama

Students in the program graduate with combined medical and doctoral degrees. The MSTP at Washington University is the largest M.D.-Ph.D. program in the nation with 183 students.

Yokoyama, the Sam J. Levin and Audrey Loew Levin Chair for Research on Arthritis at the School of Medicine and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), becomes the sixth director of the MSTP, succeeding Daniel Goldberg, M.D., Ph.D., who is stepping down after 10 years as director.

A physician-scientist himself, Yokoyama directs a basic research laboratory and is an attending physician on the internal medicine and rheumatology consultation services at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. He is also a professor of medicine and of pathology and immunology at the medical school. He has been active in the training of physician-scientists, directing the doctoral thesis work of MSTP students at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and at Washington University. He was a member of the University’s MSTP committee from 1996 to 2002.

Internationally renowned for his seminal work on the function of natural killer cells, components of the body’s innate immune defense system, Yokoyama began his academic career as an assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. In 1992, he moved to Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where he was an associate professor of medicine and of microbiology. In 1994, he became an associate investigator of HHMI, and a year later was recruited to become chief of the rheumatology division at Washington University. He was recently elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Microbiology.

“The MSTP community conveys a special thanks to Dr. Goldberg for his outstanding contributions,” Yokoyama said. “Under his leadership, MSTP at Washington University has continued to grow and thrive with 26 students scheduled to join this fall’s entering class. During Dr. Goldberg’s tenure, many former students completed their MSTP training and now have their own independent laboratories at medical schools and institutions throughout the country.”

A symposium in Goldberg’s honor showcasing MSTP alumni who graduated during his leadership is being planned for the fall.

“I look forward to building on Dr. Goldberg’s legacy to enhance physician-scientist training at Washington University,” Yokoyama said. “This is an exciting time for biomedical research with so many opportunities for physician-scientists to explore with their basic scientist and clinical colleagues and relate basic laboratory findings to the clinic.”

Yokoyama, a native of Maui, Hawaii, earned an undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Rochester and a medical degree from the University of Hawaii. He completed an internal medicine residency and a clinical fellowship in rheumatology and immunology at the University of Iowa Hospitals. He received additional post-doctoral training in basic immunology research at the National Institutes of Health.

The University’s training program, established in 1969, holds the largest NIH predoctoral training grant, which supports 49 students annually. MSTP students receive full tuition and stipend support for both the doctoral and medical degree phases of training, which takes seven to eight years. Since it was established, 427 individuals have graduated from the program, and more than 80 percent of graduates are engaged in careers in academic medicine, biotechnology or government research.

Washington University School of Medicine’s full-time and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.