Infectious Diseases Fellowship (MD): Research Training
UVA's Infectious Diseases Fellowship Program provides a rich interdisciplinary experience in ID research, with the aim of preparing fellows for careers as independent investigators on medical school faculties. Preceptors are carefully chosen to maximize opportunities for interactions between clinicians and basic scientists.
Above (l-r): Infectious Diseases post-doctoral fellow Katherine Ralston; UVA graduate student Nona Jiang; ID clinical fellow Poonam Korpe, MD. They participated in a study conducted by Dr. William Petri's lab of mother-infant cryptosporidiosis in Bangladesh. Dr. Korpe has since joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins.
The entire first year of the fellowship program is devoted to research, with no inpatient or outpatient clinical responsibilities. This allows for more rapid development of research skills and independent research programs, and lead to more productive research during the clinical years of training.
Each fellow develops a research program under the guidance of one or more faculty members from the Division of Infectious Disease or another department (e.g. Microbiology, Public Health Sciences, etc.). Fellows are mentored in all phases of research, including project definition, experimental design, and interpretation of data. Toward the end of the fellowship, as trainees prepare to establish careers as independent investigators, they are expected to write grant applications for grant programs such as the Mentored Clinical Scientist Development award. With this rigorous training, fellows are given the best chance to succeed as academic infectious disease physicians.
The program offers several forums in which trainees can consider and plan their careers beyond completion of the fellowship. Annual meetings with the fellowship program director and the division chief provide an opportunity for discussing career goals, and plans for achieving them. A yearly “Research Planning for Fellows” meeting, led by ID's Eric Houpt, offers another forum in which issues related to planning of experiments, grant-writing, manuscript publication, and expectations of progress within the fellowship are discussed in order to facilitate successful completion of these tasks.
Research-Related Resources for Trainees
A strong spirit of collegiality in the Division of Infectious Diseases creates an ideal environment for the training of students and fellows, as well as junior faculty members. We try to minimize the barriers to seeking out and receiving help that might be needed for research projects, and co-mentoring of students and fellows is common.
Most of the division's research laboratories, along with its administrative offices, are housed in the Carter-Harrison Research Building (MR6), which has 50,000 sq. feet of space dedicated to immunology and infectious diseases. Labs in other locations are connected to MR6 by weatherproof walkways.