The Immunology Training Program (ITP) supports students who matriculate at UVA through either the or the medical scientist training program (. The BIMS and MSTP programs both require students to complete 3 research rotations in the first year prior to the selection of a research mentor. These rotations are scheduled in the absence of any concurrent coursework, enabling the student to devote full-time effort to laboratory work (see figure below). The 1st rotation begins July 1 during the summer session preceding Fall Y1 and the last is completed in early February of Spring Y1. This enables a student to identify a thesis lab and become affiliated with a degree-granting Department before registration for Spring course modules. Thus, these modules can be chosen by student and thesis advisor acting together The choice of the rotation laboratories is up to the trainee with the advice of his or her BIMS or MSTP Graduate Advisor and, for students who have chosen Immunology as a Research Discipline, the ITP (Immunology Training Program) Steering Committee. )
During rotations, students typically either perform a small independent project, or assist a postdoctoral fellow or senior graduate student. Projects are always part of the investigator’s ongoing research. Students also participate in the lab meetings and journals clubs of the mentor. The purposes of the rotations are to: 1) introduce students to the operation of research laboratory; 2) allow students to acquire familiarity with different experimental techniques; and 3) acquaint students with potential mentors and the scientific questions and approaches addressed in their laboratories.
From the viewpoint of the ITP, rotation choices confirm a student’s interest in Immunology, and provide a vetting of their intellectual and laboratory skills. Research rotation reports are a part of the trainee’s application for ITP stipend support.