In the spring of the first year, fellows are expected to identify a research area (and faculty mentor) in which the subsequent two years will be focused. First year fellows participate in a research orientation program during the winter to assist in this process. Together, the trainee and mentor develop a project for investigation that is of interest to the trainee and within the expertise of the faculty member. In certain instances, joint mentorship provided by two faculty members within the Division, or by one divisional faculty member and a collaborator from another unit is appropriate. Early in the second year, the fellow presents a research conference in which he/she synthesizes existing knowledge, presents the problem for investigation, and describes the proposed plan of investigation. The faculty members and fellows in attendance provide feedback to the fellow and mentor about the proposed project; this process of peer review provides a useful experience for the fellow and often strengthens the experimental approach.
Years 2 & 3
During the second and third years, the trainee carries out the proposed work in the laboratory or clinical research facilities of the faculty mentor(s). The trainee also benefits from interactions with other trainees, technicians, and collaborating investigators. The trainee also participates in laboratory meetings and journal clubs specific to individual laboratories or research groups. Presenting research findings at regional and national meetings and submitting work for publication are both important aspects of the investigative endeavor. The trainee will receive guidance and specific assistance in learning to prepare data for oral and written presentation, to prepare graphics, and to organize talks and prepare slides. Throughout the two-year research training period, it is anticipated that the fellow will assume increasing intellectual responsibility and technical independence. Trainees may also have the opportunity to prepare grant applications to fund advanced research training. Experience preparing protocols for animal studies and human studies institutional review board approval will also be gained.
To enhance the research training experience, each fellow and mentor assembles a research advisory committee including two-four additional faculty members. Twice yearly, the fellow presents an update of his/her progress, and the Committee provides the fellow and mentor with advice regarding the research project as well as career development.