Research & Academic Development

Make your residency training experience your own, and tailor a 2-year period to your specific interests and goals with protected Academic Development Time.

Academic Development Time or ADT is a unique feature of the Michigan General Surgery Residency Program, and offers residents the opportunity to pursue a range of academic interests, including:

  • Basic science research
  • Translational research
  • Clinical / outcomes research
  • Additional degrees
  • Additional clinical training
  • A year-long Surgery Leadership Development Program

Most residents take this academic time after their third year of clinical training, when they have substantial clinical maturity and a good idea of their professional goals. Your first three years of residency provide an opportunity to get familiar with research being done in the department, develop relationships with primary investigators, and finalize a proposal for your own research.

During your ADT, you’ll be paired with a primary mentor in your area of interest, who will also provide regular feedback. You will also have access to dedicated statistical support for resident-driven projects.

For residents interested in careers in academic surgery, this ADT period is invaluable in developing the skills in scholarship and grant preparation that you’ll need as a faculty member.

"One of the priorities of the UM Surgical Residency is training the next generation of surgeon scientists. To this end, we provide opportunities for both clinical and lab-based research. During their ADT, residents will develop their critical thinking, experimental design and analysis, and writing and presentation skills. The trainees will develop their own research proposal; under the guidance of their faculty mentors, they will refine their research interests and set the stage for their long-term academic success."

Marina Pasca di Magliano, Ph.D., Associate Chair for Research

Learning goals for this period include:

  1. Gain knowledge of literature searching and abstraction, search terms, and scholarly resources for your project.
  2. Gain basic knowledge of biostatistics, power calculations, comparison of nominal and categorical variables. Develop knowledge of basic software for statistical functions.
  3. Learn how to critically evaluate the pertinent literature for your projects. Be able to produce a hypothesis-driven set of experiments or analyses (HSR).
  4. Practice abstract writing and manuscript preparation for publication.
  5. Learn to prepare a scientific presentation for a local, regional, or national meeting.
  6. Acquire laboratory-specific skills related to your project, such as real-time PCR, western blotting, and immunohistochemistry. Or, if performing HSR, gain fluency with statistical design and advanced software.
  7. Participate in and complete a research integrity and ethics course. Understand the role of IRB and human studies protections and procedures.
  8. Participate in animal awareness and handling courses, if applicable.
  9. Understand basic grant writing and grant structure, including the roles of the NIH and other funding agencies. Residents are encouraged and supported to submit for multiple grant opportunities.

Research Funding and Travel

The Department of Surgery is ranked first among surgery departments in the country for NIH funding, and you’ll find an amazing breadth and depth of research in our labs — and in our collaborative health services research enterprises, like U-M’s Institute for Healthcare Policy & Innovation and the Center for Healthcare Outcomes & Policy (CHOP), where surgery faculty serve as active members and leaders.

Our residents have also been very successful in obtaining NIH loan repayment and funding through national surgical organizations such as the American College of Surgeons.

In addition to obtaining funding, U-M residents have traveled extensively to present their work at academic conferences on both a local and national level. Residents are also encouraged to attend the Association for Academic Surgery's Surgical Research and Career Development Course.

While completing Academic Development Time (ADT), residents also have the opportunity to apply for the Coller Surgical Society Travelling Fellowship. This award allows residents to travel to another institution to explore an area of surgery of particular interest to them.

"In my Academic Development Time, I have been learning about using high-throughput transcriptome sequencing to develop personalized therapies for patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma. As a general surgery resident, I can provide a unique clinical perspective to many of the questions we investigate in the basic science lab."

Iris Wei, M.D., General Surgery Residency Class of 2015