Research Experience

It is anticipated that all fellows will engage in research during their fellowship regardless of which track they choose, Clinician Educator or Physician Investigator. Despite the clinical rigor of the first year, many fellows begin scholarly activities early under the guidance of our diverse group of internationally-recognized faculty with expertise in immunology, applied basic laboratory research, translational research, clinical trials, and outcomes/epidemiology research in rheumatoid arthritis, vasculitis, systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, inflammatory myositis, Sjogren’s syndrome, and mechanisms of autoimmunity.  There are also extensive collaborative research opportunities afforded to fellows outside of the Division of Immunology and Rheumatology should they choose to pursue them.  More dedicated time is afforded during the second year for scholarly pursuits.  All fellows are expected to plan a Quality Improvement project during their first year which they implement and complete by the end of their second year.  Fellows are encouraged to present their research at local and national rheumatology conferences.  During the research years, fellows continue to see patients in the outpatient setting 1 to 2 half-day sessions per week to maintain their clinical acumen.

We have a T32 Training Grant that provides an additional two years of support for M.D or M.D. /Ph.D postdoctoral fellows in adult rheumatology beyond their first two years of fellowship training. The T32 Training Program has three tracks:

  1. Biomedical translational science
  2. Clinical trials and therapeutics
  3. Components of Health Services Research

Divisional faculty in each of the tracks have ties with other programs in their disciplines within the School and the University. The fundamental focus of the trainee is in the field of their mentor. For fellows entering the Physician Investigator track, the majority of their effort during the second and third (possible fourth) years is spent performing hypothesis-driven research in one of the wet labs in the Division of Immunology and Rheumatology or with one of our dry bench researchers. Mentors work directly with the trainees to help them identify a testable hypothesis, to aid them in the design and execution of rational experiments, and to assist with interpretation of results. The emphasis of all the labs participating in this pathway is on clinically-relevant scientific questions, and trainees will be encouraged to pursue projects related to animal models of disease; biochemistry of proteins involved in immunity; cellular biology of transplantation, autoimmunity, tolerance, and signaling; and translational research related to genomics and proteomics. Fellows that have a passion for clinical trials, epidemiology, and outcomes research are likewise supported by a multidisciplinary effort involving faculty mentors both within and outside of the Division. Some fellows pursue Masters degrees during their extended fellowships in Clinical Trials and Study Design, Epidemiology and Outcomes Research, Biomedical Informatics, or other disciplines.

Training of fellows in grant preparation, manuscript preparation, organization and delivery of scientific lectures, and data analysis is critical to their success as independent investigators. Fellows are given informal training by individual research mentors in these areas in addition to formal seminars on these topics organized as part of the interdepartmental program in Immunology training.

Fellows Khushboo Sheth and Antonia Valenzuela, poster presentation at QIQSS

Dr. Anna Postolova at RWCS 2018, poster presentation