Investigator Training Pipeline (ITP)

Investigator Training Pipeline (ITP)

A novel program for Stanford Neurology residency applicants that guarantees, at the time of residency Match, a clinical/research subspecialty fellowship after residency.  

What is the ITP?

The goal of Stanford Neurology’s new Investigator Training Pipeline (ITP) is to train the next generation of physician-scientist leaders within the neurosciences.  The ITP leverages the tremendous academic resources within the Department, and the broader neuroscience community at Stanford University, to provide highly motivated candidates a streamlined and seamless path leading from student to resident to fellow to faculty.

Who should apply to the ITP?

The ITP would be most appropriate for the research-oriented medical school graduate (either MD or MD PhD) who has already identified a specific area of focus within Neurology that they intend to build an academic career around. For the majority of Neurology residency candidates who are currently “undifferentiated” in terms of subspecialty and research interests, our extensive array of Neurology fellowships remain available through the normal channels; fellowships are typically applied to during the PGY-3 year of Neurology residency. Further, all of our residents have access to multiple research opportunities during and after residency, whether participating in the Neuroscience Scholars Track or through other mechanisms.

How is the ITP structured?

Exceptional medical student graduates with strong research backgrounds and interests enter the ITP as Neurology residents with the expectation they will remain at Stanford for subspecialty fellowship training, including a prominent research component. Fellowship training will be guaranteed prior to beginning Neurology residency, but remains contingent upon excellent clinical performance during residency. Research efforts can begin during residency, whether through our Neuroscience Scholar Tract or during the ample elective time. The structure of the fellowship years, including the timing and duration of the research year(s), will be dictated by the specific subspecialty division. In most cases, the expectation would be that the research would be in the second year of fellowship, after the predominantly clinical first year is complete.

How does one apply to the ITP?

Prospective ITP scholars apply to our Neurology residency program as they normally would (via ERAS), but should send a separate email to the Program Coordinator, Mitzine Wright and the Program Directors, Drs. Nirali Vora and Neil Schwartz, declaring an interest in being considered for the ITP. Applicants should submit a document of no more than two pages highlighting the particular neurology clinical/research fellowship they are interested in (e.g. Neuromuscular, Behavioral Neurology, Vascular Neurology, etc), their research background and interests in that particular area, and some Stanford faculty members they would be interested in meeting with.

Is there a separate selection and interview process for the ITP?

ITP applicants will be considered in the larger pool of Neurology resident applicants.  If invited to interview for the Neurology residency program, subspecialty faculty/fellowship directors will evaluate the application for a potential ITP slot. At that point (if agreeable to the subspecialty program), a separate fellowship/research interview day will be set up to meet with faculty, researchers, and other scholars within the selected subspecialty. This would not be on the same day as your residency interview, but would take place shortly after. Essentially, you would have a fellowship interview even though you have not been accepted to residency yet. Applicants are encouraged to select specific faculty they are interested in meeting with, and identify potential research mentors based on their interests. In this way, the interview day can be the most informative.

What if an ITP scholar changes their mind about fellowship during residency?

While the expectation is that accepted ITP scholars will complete their clinical/research fellowship in their chosen subspecialty at Stanford upon the successful completion of residency, there is no contractual obligation to do so.

Who should/should not apply to the ITP?

This is not a program simply to “ink” a clinical fellowship prior to residency. This is for research-focused scholars who already have a clear idea of their potential career pathway in academic neurology. For example, you may already know that you want to develop biomarkers for the early diagnosis of AD, and are certain you want to do a two-year fellowship (clinical and research) in Behavioral Neurology at Stanford after residency. Or you may know that you want to discover small molecules to treat gliomas, and doing a two-year research-focused Neuro-oncology fellowship at Stanford is your dream. If you are on the fence about the role research will play in your career, or you are not sure what subspeciality you will focus your efforts in, the ITP is probably not for you.

All fellowships and all research opportunities at Stanford remain available to all our residents, whether they are part of the ITP or not. The ITP is simply a way to get the next step (i.e. a specific research fellowship) settled for those who are already committed to a given area of inquiry.