Enrichment

Enrichment

The ITP includes a variety of enrichment activities that benefit both pre and postdoctoral trainees. Participation in these activities is expected of all trainees throughout their affiliation with the ITP, and not merely during the year of stipend support. These activities provide a rich intellectual environment for broadening the trainee’s exposure to the breadth of contemporary issues in immunology. They also provide trainees with important role models for various career paths in immunological research.

  • Immunology Seminar Series. This is a superb weekly series, focused almost entirely on outside speakers, and sponsored by the CIC. Speakers are selected to span the broad range of immunology research among faculty and trainees. Pre- and post-doctoral trainees are expected to attend all formal talks, meet with each speaker over lunch, and are usually given the opportunity to participate in informal meetings between speakers and faculty. Two speakers each year are formally chosen and hosted by the trainees, which allows the trainees to match a speaker’s expertise with their interests, and gives the trainees experience in administrative activities. Many other departments and training programs host their own seminar series, providing a rich interdisciplinary environment for our trainees.
  • Research in Progres (RIP). This weekly forum for the presentation/discussion of trainee research is co-sponsored by the CIC and the ITP. It is a central component of our training program, as it offers trainees a venue to develop their skills at organizing/presenting their data before a critical, but friendly audience; to learn firsthand the specific details of research activities in other laboratories; to exchange information and ideas about experimental strategies, techniques and methodologies; and to obtain input and a advice from colleagues with expertise in different areas of Immunology research. It also provides a means to enhance programmatic identity and encourage greater interaction among trainees. Early stage students may do short-form (half hour) presentations, which also gives opportunities to receive feedback during thesis project development. Attendance by ITP mentors is strongly encouraged as a condition of continued ITP mentorship. Participation and attendance by trainees is uniformly excellent (usually 40-60 individuals).
  • Immunology Journal Club. Trainees usually attend journal clubs run by their laboratories alone or in conjunction with other laboratories. As a consequence of the Program retreat (click here for summary), the trainees developed a trainee-run journal club that meets in the summer in place of RIP. The lack of faculty participation was seen by the trainees as a way to encourage a more direct and vocal peer-to-peer educational experience, and to assist them in developing a sense of responsibility for the quality of the papers chosen and the work presented (click here for schedule and trainee evaluations).
  • Immunology Meeting Report. Until this year, our trainees were encouraged to apply to and participate in the AAI Advanced Immunology Course. Trainee evaluations indicated that this course was redundant and less comprehensive than internal ITP coursework. They expressed a strong preference to attend an immunology meeting to be exposed to current science, and as a networking/career development opportunity. Because few of our stipend trainees will have been in the laboratory for sufficient time to have a presentation of their own work, the ITP Executive Committee stipulated that trainee travel funds be used for an immunologically-focused meeting approved by the ITP Steering committee based on written justification by the trainee. In addition, the trainee is expected to convene a meeting of all current and interested past trainees at which they will present a meeting report, and be prepared to field questions.
  • Beirne B. Carter Annual Immunology Lectureship. This annual lectureship introduces our trainees and the UVA biomedical sciences community to the research of international leaders in Immunology. Over the last 10 years, all Lecturers have been members of the National Academy of Sciences, and included one Nobel Laureate. Selection is based on nominations by ITP mentors and trainees.  Our trainees meet with the Lecturer over lunch, giving them an opportunity to interact with the very best in our field.
  • Anderson Symposium on Immunology and Microbial Pathogenesis. This annual symposium of 4-5 speakers nominally addresses a topic at the interface of Immunology and Infectious Disease, but has also included symposia on developmental plasticity, miRNAs in health and disease, inflammation and cancer, bridging innate and adaptive immunity, and initiation and regulation of the immune response.. The symposium is jointly sponsored by the CIC, the training programs in Immunology and in Infectious Disease, the Departments of MIC and Internal Medicine (Division of Infectious Disease), and Office of the Dean of the School of Medicine. A rotating committee of ITP mentors is responsible for organization and topic and speaker selection.
  • Grant Writing. Effective grant writing is an essential skill for any biomedical training program. Our postdoctoral trainees have generally had some exposure to this during their graduate careers, and gain experience while preparing an application for external funding together with their mentor and Research Advisory Committee. Predoctoral trainees historically gain this experience during preparation of the Qualifying Exam document. However, there are 3 courses in which writing is emphasized, and which we strongly recommend to all of our students. Effective Science Writing for Grants and Fellowships (CELL 8450) provides students with extensive peer and faculty mentoring in a workshop format as they each prepare an NIH NRSA-style fellowship application. Microbial Pathogenesis Proposal Preparation (MICR 8402) provides a similar experience for ITP trainees in the laboratories of mentors with an infectious disease orientation. Molecular Basis of Human Disease (PATH 8130/.8140) provides grant writing exposure for MSTP matriculants and trainees affiliated with the Dept of Pathology. Our goal is that all of these proposals be submitted for external funding.
  • Career Development Activities: The Graduate Biosciences Society (GBS), an organization of biomedical sciences graduate students at UVA, organizes a Career Seminar Series drawing on local and national speakers who talk specifically about career paths and career development activities (GBS seminar -- click here). Career Development (BIMS 8064-syllabus) is a seminar course (typically audited rather than taken for credit) that attracts a wide audience of pre and postdoctoral trainees throughout the medical school. It includes presentations on a variety of topics related to alternative careers and career development. The Essentials of Translational Science (CELL 8401-syllabus) is designed to prepare students to understand proof-of-concept research and industrial designed experiments; innovate and invent; create valuable intellectual properties; optimize patent enablements and claims; interact with regulatory agencies; champion entrepreneurship and commercialization activities; and enhance societal impact of basic research. The Biotechnology Training Program provides numerous courses, workshops, and a seminar series with numerous corporate speakers, and an annual symposium, which is attended by many of our trainees (http://faculty.virginia.edu/biotech/Seminars.html). For predoctoral trainees, the program offers a 3-month industrial externship.