Research Track

Preparing psychiatry residents for successful careers based in basic science and clinical mental health research

The Research Track is specifically designed to prepare psychiatry residents for research careers while ensuring clinical excellence. Instead of postponing research training until a fellowship, the resident in the Research Track spends progressively more time in research activities over the course of the program, while continuing clinical training. Thus, this program integrates clinical training with programmed research experience within the context of an expanded residency program -- in essence a true “translational” training opportunity.

Overview

The Department has a long-standing Research Track training for psychiatry residents, which was the first psychiatry residency training program to be funded by an NIMH R25. The current program connects with an optional post-residency, intensive research fellowship for 2 years, funded by either an NIAAA T32 (for residents interested in addiction research) or a (pending) NIMH T32 (for residents interested in psychopathology)

Residents apply to the program in their first or second year of residency, after identifying a mentoring team and research project, and they initiate their research project during 12 months of elective time, which can be taken as 6 months in PGY-III year and 6 months in the PGY-IV year, or all in the PGY-IV year, or some other combination that best suits the needs of the fellow. The post-residency, an optional fellowship phase, introduces various training modules, and clinical activity (as a faculty lecturer) linked to the fellow’s research project, usually around 10-20%. The fellowship training is designed to lead to K-award applications. Through the Research Track training, the resident will be launched on a career path into academic psychiatry.

The Department has a distinguished history in training psychiatric researchers. Since initiation of the Research Track training in the late 1980s, the program has enrolled a total of 34 trainees (44% women, 12% Black/Hispanic), and 28 completed (46% women, 14% Black/Hispanic). Of the completers, 89% currently occupy academic positions, and 61% have academic ranks of full or associate professor, including 9 department chairs or associate/vice-chairs.

Mentors

Research Track residents select a seasoned research mentor. The mentor has primary responsibility for guiding them through the training process, in addition to annual reviews of their work and research plans by the Research Track Executive Committee. Research projects may be basic or clinical, and involve any aspect of psychiatry. Research Track residents may work with anyone with an ongoing, active research program on the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry or the Michigan Neuroscience Institute (MNI) at the University of Michigan. Under special circumstances, a resident may work with a mentor who is outside the Department of Psychiatry and MNI.

photo in the NeuroNetwork for Emerging Therapies lab

Research Opportunities at Michigan

Research Track trainees will enjoy numerous opportunities for mentorship and cutting edge psychiatric research. A strength of the U-M campus lies in an enormous diversity of productive research, which is highly collaborative across units. The figure illustrates a sub-set of the many institutes, centers and departments on campus with which our psychiatry faculty are affiliated. With over 50 funded, active investigators in the department and $32 million dollars in NIH funded in FY2020 (9th amongst departments of psychiatry), the incoming Research Track resident will have a wide variety of stellar mentors from which to choose. While all trainees will have a psychiatry faculty mentor or co-mentor, they are encouraged to seek out mentors outside of the Department, tapping into the rich scientific environment at the University of Michigan. 

The Department of Psychiatry boasts particular strengths in addiction research, health services and implementation research, neuroimaging, brain stimulation, sleep research, suicide research, geropsychiatry and dementia research. The Michigan Neurosciences Institute is an interdisciplinary unit with strong departmental affiliations, in which multiple investigators engaged in psychiatrically-relevant neuroscience research. The Frances and Kenneth Eisenberg and Family Depression Center, first of its kind in the United States, is at the forefront of building awareness in the larger community and guiding depression research across campus. The Addiction Center conducts multi-disciplinary research focused on prevention and intervention, developmental psychopathology and brain function in substance use disorders.
The Research Track trainee will also have multiple opportunities for learning, both formal and informal. A network of four post-doctoral training programs in clinical psychology, accredited by the American Psychological Association, runs in the department. The T32 training grants, in addition to including psychiatrists, also include psychologist fellows. Sharing didactics and lecture series with the post-doctoral fellows, the research track resident will become a part of a community of scholars with enhanced opportunity for shared learning and peer network building. The Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research (MICHR) is the home to U-M’s NIH Clinical Translational Science Award (CTSA), providing U-M researchers with training, tools, and services, including multiple programs relevant to research training, especially clinical training. MICHR also hosts regular R01 and K-award bootcamps, designed to help early career faculty refine and hone their ideas into fundable grant applications.

Research Track Participant Selection

Entry into the Research Track is limited to individuals that are also (or will be) a resident in psychiatry (or a child psychiatry fellow), and accordingly must have an M.D. or D.O. degree. Applications are considered at any time of the year, but applications are typically received in the winter or early spring, reviewed during the spring, with appointments effective 7/1, to coincide with the residency academic year. Historically, the number of Research Track residents has been limited to two per training year. Acceptance to the track is based on approval of a project proposal and the faculty mentor by the Research Track Executive Committee.

Application Materials Include:

  1. the proposed research project, with specific objectives and description of the means by which they will be reached;
  2. identification of a mentor or several mentors, with letters of support from the proposed mentor;
  3. additional documentation that support for the project (although not the trainee’s stipend) is available;
  4. a career development plan that integrates the research plan, but also provides information of the larger plan for becoming a clinician-investigator;
  5. any additional plans that are accordingly proposed during the training period, such as professional visits to other academic settings.

Once accepted into the Research Track, residents are reviewed annually.

Contact

For more information about the Research Track and other research training opportunities in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan, contact the Director of this program:

Stephan F. Taylor, M.D.
Director, Research Track Training
Associate Chair for Research and Research Regulatory Affairs
Professor of Psychiatry
Adjunct Professor of Psychology

Email: sftaylor@umich.edu