September 27, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Crash course stem cell training for docs puts patients at risk

With all the excitement over the potential of stem cells to transform medicine, a key bottleneck is physician training.

Just how many doctors in the entire US have years of real experience and training in clinical use of stem cells….hmmm, let’s see….I can only think of a few in the whole country.

Yes, it’s really that bad.

MD training in stem cells
Stem cell training components.

I proposed recently that academic centers and hospitals establish formal, 1-year fellowship programs for physicians. The curriculum of that training program is detailed at right.

Unfortunately, most docs who are getting “training” in stem cells these days are not getting it at academic centers or hospitals with expertise.

Instead they are getting crash courses in stem cells over a couple days. Then they go and treat patients.

In fact a cottage industry has sprung up of relatively quick training for docs who end up getting a certificate that looks like a diploma (see example of a real anonymized one below).

Stem Cell Training Certificate, Regenestem

What does this training actually qualify a physician to do?

It’s unclear.

Regenestem is one outfit selling such training.

Another is simply called Stem Cell Training.

On their website is a picture of a couple of people holding “diplomas” that look similar to the certificate above. The two upcoming trainings listed on the website are for 2 days each in Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. Sounds more like a vacation than training to me.

The man behind Stem Cell Training is Dr. Joseph Purita, who did Bartolo Colon’s stem cell procedure in 2011.

Can two days really make a stem cell expert?

I don’t think so.

It takes years of experience and training.

Without such thorough training, in my opinion quick-trained doctors are putting patients at risk and their own medical practices in jeopardy from litigation and regulatory actions.

Would you get your cardiac bypass from a dermatologist who had only taken a weekend course in heart surgery? It boggles the mind.

The bottom line is that crash courses in stem cells do not make a doctor a “stem cell specialist”, but may very well lead to medical “crashes” where many patients get hurt by inexperienced doctors.

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