Second & Subsequent Year Fellow Activities

We offer two parallel training tracks in the second year. Most fellows, irrespective of their final career choice, select a research track and immerse themselves in a mentored research project, but we also offer a clinical track.

Research Track

In the second year, the focus for fellows changes from clinical activities to research. Fellows reduce weekly half-day ambulatory clinics from two to one, reduce the frequency of their VA clinics from monthly to six-weekly, and spend only limited time on the consult service (usually two to six weeks), as required to cover first year fellows on vacation. Fellows who choose to stay for an additional year are appointed to the faculty as Fellow/Lecturers and are responsible for their own ambulatory clinic one day/week but do not have other clinical responsibilities.

Fellows choose a research mentor and project during their first year and in the second year are able to devote at least 80% of their time to their research project. The Division Chief and Program Director are eager to assist fellows as they go through the process of choosing a mentor and project. Most of our fellows choose a mentor from among Rheumatology faculty, but are under no obligation to do so. The basic science faculty all have significant peer-reviewed external funding, generally including at least one NIH RO1 or equivalent. Areas of investigation include human immunology and immunopathology, mechanisms of inflammation, connective tissue biology and biochemistry, and molecular genetics. The research laboratories of the Division of Rheumatology occupy over 12,000 square feet of space. In addition to a strong focus on basic research, we recognize the need to train investigators in patient-oriented research. Our clinical research faculty has undergone considerable expansion in recent years, targeting SLE and scleroderma. The primary areas of investigation for these faculty members include epidemiology, behavioral sciences, human physiology, therapeutics, and outcomes research.

Rheumatology faculty are familiar with other rheumatic-disease related research on campus through close active collaborations and interdisciplinary graduate education programs. We can and do assist fellows find research mentors in other academic units if they wish. We recommend that potential applicants interested in the scope of available research opportunities access websites such as:

The University of Michigan Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Life Sciences Institute
The Biological Sciences Scholars Program
Program in Biomedical Sciences
Individual Departments and Inter-disciplinary programs
Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research

Fellows interested in pursuing a career in research are offered the opportunity to attend a nine-week full-time Postdoctoral Research Training Program at the beginning of their second year. The program is designed to introduce individuals with a strong interest in pursuing a career in academic medicine to new and emerging concepts in cell and molecular biology. The course is divided into two basic categories: 1) Cell biology and biochemistry and 2) Molecular biology and genetics. These two sections are introduced by a core of eight faculty members who have been chosen from the Departments of Biochemistry, Human Genetics, Physiology, Pathology, Pharmacology, Biology, Internal Medicine, as well as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. In part, the program is constructed to provide a basic framework of knowledge in a variety of disciplines. However, more importantly, the course is designed to introduce fellows to the methods of scientific thought, inquiry, and analysis via the presentation of specific research topics. The program does not emphasize techniques, but rather problem solving exercises.

Fellows interested in clinical/translational research are offered the opportunity to enroll in the Master of Science program in Clinical Research Design and Statistical Analysis offered by the School of Public Health. Coursework is usually completed over a two-year period and is coordinated with the fellows’ research project and other responsibilities.

Both the basic science research training program and MPH degree course have been very popular with previous fellows and are highly recommended. The program pays all associated costs.

Clinical Track

Fellows are offered the opportunity to join an established clinical research project for six to twelve weeks, but spend the majority of the second year in ambulatory care clinics, with a mix of:

  • continuity clinics at the main U-M site as well as the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System with ongoing supervision from the same faculty member
  • additional clinic rotations at our main site with multiple different faculty
  • off-site rotations to ex-fellows’ local private practices