UMASS MEDICAL SCHOOL RECEIVES GRANT FROM PFIZER TO DEVELOP SEXUAL HEALTH CURRICULUM

November 16, 2001

Worcester, Mass. - The University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) has been awarded a $100,000 grant from Pfizer Inc. to develop and implement an innovative multidisciplinary curriculum in sexual health medicine. Pfizer's Sexual Health Medical School Curriculum Grant Program is designed to enhance the training of medical students in the field of sexual health.

"Sexual health education is currently not well represented in all medical student education programs," noted M. Brownell Anderson, grant selection committee chair and senior associate vice president for medical education, Association of American Medical Colleges. "Our data on curriculum indicates that, while every medical school includes the topic of sexual health as part of the required curriculum, there is an average of 10 hours in the four year medical school program devoted to sexual health education. As a result, many physicians may not be adequately prepared to effectively diagnose and treat sexual health problems in their practices. We hope these grants provide models for other schools to adapt and incorporate in their curriculum."

Over one-third of accredited medical schools in the United States applied for the competitive grants. Applications were reviewed by a committee of sexual health experts and medical educators from leading U.S. medical schools. Successful applicants had to demonstrate an understanding of sexual health, not just as disease- and function-related, but as a fundamental component of sexual wellness as it pertains to interpersonal skills, health behaviors, and relationship building. Winning schools had to outline proposed course work relating to the diagnosis and management of medical and psychological conditions affecting sexual health and address the complex social and ethical dimensions of patient care.

"As one of only seven schools nationwide to win this grant, UMass Medical School has proven its commitment to making sexual health an essential element of our curriculum and the care and well-being of all patients, regardless of gender, age, race, cultural identity, and sexual orientation," said Michelle Pugnaire, MD, Vice Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education and associate professor of family medicine & community health at UMMS. "The Pfizer grant provides us with an opportunity to further enhance the sexual health curriculum here and build upon the innovations developed and implemented by UMass faculty and medical students, through such curriculum initiatives as the Macy Health Initiative in Health Communication, a project designed to strengthen the communication skills of our physicians-in-training in the areas of communication with and about patients, as well as medicine and science," noted Pugnaire.

"Sexual health problems significantly impact the quality of life of millions of individuals," noted Michael Widlitz, MD, Vice President, Medical, Men's and Women's Health, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals Group. "We believe this program will provide the building blocks toward enhancing physician knowledge and treatment of sexual health problems in the coming decade," added Widlitz.

Through these grants, Pfizer hopes to increase awareness and understanding among health professionals and the academic community of the importance of sexual health as a critical component of overall health and wellness.

The University of Massachusetts Medical School, comprising the Graduate School of Nursing and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences as well as the School of Medicine, has consistently ranked among the top medical schools in the country for primary care. One of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country, UMMS attracts more than $123 million in research funding annually.

Pfizer Inc. discovers, develops, manufactures and markets leading prescription medicines for humans and animals, and many of the world's best known consumer products.

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