Department of Pediatrics - Research

T32 Fellowship Training Grant: Training in Pediatric Infectious Diseases

This training grant’s purpose is to provide focused research training for Pediatric clinician-investigators in the area of opportunistic infections and other infections in the immunocompromised child. Ours is one of the few programs that have opportunistic infections and the compromised host as a major focus of basic investigation. Forty percent of the trainees who have completed this program thus far have assumed faculty positions in academic medical centers and two have laboratory based research programs focusing on opportunistic infections. Collaboration between basic scientists and physicians who are competent in the laboratory provides trainees with mentors who have collegial as well as technological resources on which to draw. T32 Fellows also benefit from the research and career guidance of their individual scholarship oversight committees (SOC).

The program’s primary focus for career development is to train M.D.s, D.O.s and Ph.D.s in laboratory research on opportunistic infections.  Its specific aims are to:

  1. Give fellows the opportunity to engage in and understand high quality, basic and clinical research aimed at understanding opportunistic infections;
  2. Develop thinking skills and knowledge base that will allow the application of basic analytical principles to understanding opportunistic infections;
  3. Foster academic careers by providing guidance and a framework necessary for the conduct of scientifically sound, ethical, and clinically relevant research in pediatric opportunistic infections.

Eligibility / Selection

Applicants should have a desire to acquire research skills and knowledge in order to apply them to a career devoted to advancing the understanding of opportunistic infections relevant to children and/or adolescents. Applicants, who are recruited nationwide as well as from the pool of University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry residents, apply via the ACGME Match. Applicants’ prior academic performance and letters of recommendation are evaluated, and eligible applicants are interviewed.

While Fellows from the Infectious Diseases Fellowship Program are usually chosen, we have also accepted Fellows from other subspecialties who deal with the immunocompromised host, such as Hematology-Oncology, Neonatology or Critical Care medicine.

Fellows are selected by consensus of the Infectious Diseases faculty. Each applicant is mailed a description of the laboratory activities of participating faculty, as well as that of selected other university faculty whose research might be of interest to incoming fellows. Faculty whose projects are of interest to applicants are put in contact with those fellows so that one or two potential research mentors are selected before new Fellows arrive. Brief rotations in laboratories can be done to help finalize placement. Once a mentor has been identified, the mentor, trainee and the program director meet and select the research oversight committee (SOC), which is charged with reviewing the adequacy of the proposed research project.

Evaluation

Functioning like a PhD thesis committee, the SOC meets at least twice a year to assess the trainee’s progress on specific goals, master of laboratory techniques and how well the fellow is integrated into the chosen laboratory. Minutes from these meetings are entered into the trainee’s record. Evaluations from attendings after each clinical rotation will also be included in the trainee’s record. Ultimately, the success or failure of each trainee will be judged based on their ability to:

  1. Assume a junior faculty position (or equivalent in a non-university setting) with the tools to begin to develop an independent research career in a basic research area relevant to infectious diseases in the immunocompromised host.
  2. Have at least one paper presented at a national meeting and have at least one full-length paper published in a relevant journal.
  3. Teach medical students and house officers in the laboratory, classroom, and at the bedside.
  4. Effectively manage all aspects of the care of pediatric patients with infectious diseases or other relevant problems.
  5. Pass the Infectious Diseases Subspecialty Board Certification exam.

Ongoing Support

While this training grant offers three years of support, the department is committed to continued support for worthy Fellows, so that they can extend their training from one to three additional years.

Annual Meeting

Near the end of every academic year the faculty of the Division of Infectious Diseases meets with fellows to discuss ongoing evaluations from the SOCs and the program in general. Departing fellows complete an exit survey of feedback on the department and the program. Fellows may expect to meet privately with external reviewers from the ACGME, should that review (every 5 years) occur during the training period.

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Our Research is Expanding

NACHRI recently ranked the Department of Pediatrics 15th in NIH funding based on total dollars awarded. Five years ago our ranking was 27th, demonstrating a significant increase.