Empowering Future Leaders in Medicine

 Charles ’21, Dana, Alexandra ’18, and Jim ’85

Last year, as the world rushed to understand the spread and effects of the novel coronavirus, researchers at Yale School of Medicine (YSM) drew on clinical and research strengths spanning many disciplines. In July, for example, a team of physicians and data scientists introduced the Yale Department of Internal Medicine Covid Explorer tool, an open access dataset with non-identified clinical data of more than 3,000 COVID-19 patients in the Yale New Haven Health system. Researchers have used the tool to advance their work and inspire new inquiries into the disease. This type of collaborative, cross-cutting work is a hallmark of YSM.

The intersection of medicine and innovation is particularly compelling for Jim Tananbaum ’85. At Yale and in his post-graduate education, he merged interests in technology, data science, biology, and medicine. As the founder and CEO of Foresite Capital, a healthcare investment firm, he now champions and invests in entrepreneurs who are developing tools and methods derived from these and other fields to bring new breakthrough therapeutics to market.

To create opportunities for the next generation of healthcare innovators, Tananbaum and his wife, Dana, parents of Alexandra Tananbaum ’18 and Charles Tananbaum ’21, have established an endowed scholarship fund at YSM.

New insights

The James and Dana Tananbaum Family Scholarship Fund in Medicine will support students engaged in interdisciplinary, systems-oriented research. By offsetting the costs of tuition, housing, and other expenses, the scholarship reduces the need for recipients to take out loans and encourages the pursuit of new paths to discovery in healthcare.

“Interdisciplinary learning and partnership are pillars of our school’s curriculum,” notes Nancy J. Brown ’81, the Jean and David W. Wallace Dean of the Yale School of Medicine. “The Tananbaum Family Scholarship enables our students to explore exciting new intersections of medical research across various disciplines and conceive of creative solutions that will advance medicine in extraordinary ways.”

“Humanity’s most pressing challenges will be solved by those who think outside the box,” says Jim Tananbaum, a member of the University Council. “Integrated research is key to this approach, and our family is proud to support tomorrow’s leading scientists at YSM who will go on to improve human health for all.”

Creating possibility, minimizing debt

Patient demographics in the United States are diversifying, and healthcare technology is advancing at a tremendous pace. Interdisciplinary education and training at YSM provide students with the versatility to adapt to new environments and engage with their patients in more sophisticated ways. The Tananbaum Family Scholarship creates a new opportunity for those pursuing this work to embark on the medical specialty or research path—or both—of their choosing, minimizing the burdens of medical school debt.

Loan debt can weigh heavily on graduates and their families, and it can even influence their decisions regarding the fields they pursue and the communities they serve. The average debt for a YSM graduate is approximately $120,000. Although this is significantly lower than the national average of $200,000, YSM is committed to doing even better. Increasing accessibility and offering more robust financial aid are central to these efforts. In 2019, the school announced that it would increase scholarship funding and reduce the loan portion of its financial aid packages, offering meaningful relief for its student body that continues today.

“Loan debt should never prevent our students from pursuing their dreams,” adds Dean Brown. “It is our ultimate goal to eliminate the need for our students to take out loans so that they can freely explore their interests without worrying about debt or other pressures. YSM students represent the future of healthcare, and their talents and ideas must be nurtured. I am so grateful to Jim and Dana for their generous gift that helps make this possible.”

April 26, 2021