The objective of the research training experience during fellowship is to ensure that trainees acquire a core skill set that will allow future functioning as ethical, independent investigators. This will be achieved through performance of an independent research project where the trainee will develop skills in hypothesis-setting, study design, and data interpretation under the direct supervision of a mentoring faculty member. Decision on a research project needs to begin around November of the first year of fellowship, allowing for transition at the start of the second year to a more research focused effort. The Fellowship Research Oversight Committee composed of multiple faculty members from various backgrounds will meet with the fellows (and their mentors) to help guide the process.
The Rheumatology Fellowship Program can be extended for a third year to enhance research training and to support the development of academic skills and qualifications. The requisite clinical training should be completed in the first 2 years of training so that the third year is devoted to a research career development.
The fellows typically follow basic/translational immunology track or clinical scholar track based on their interests.
Basic immunology research options are numerous. Multiple cutting edge immunology laboratories are active in the Rheumatology Section and within the larger University of Chicago scientific community, all with relevance to autoimmunity. This track would require a third year of fellowship training. Exposure to basic immunology might begin in the first year on a limited basis with a small amount of bench work and attendance at lab meetings. The laboratory effort would increase then in the 2nd year and be almost wholly devoted to bench research in the 3rd year. Interested fellows should strongly consider supplementing their studies with graduate level immunology overview courses, and may pursue an accelerated PhD program under the auspices of Dr. Marcus Clark.
The Clinical Scholar Track involves research projects in clinical science. There are a number of certificate programs and degree programs that interested fellows may want to pursue to augment this track. Non-degree resources include the Summer Program in Outcomes Research Training (SPORT) along with other courses in clinical and translational science. SPORT provides an intensive introduction to outcomes research through coursework in health services research, biostatistics, research methods and clinical epidemiology along with opportunities to develop a research proposal that could form the basis of an NIH or other career development award. EPOR offers courses throughout the academic year on how to conduct clinical trials, providing insider tips from senior investigators and the technical knowledge of how to create and execute a successful study.
Fellows may also choose to pursue degree programs such as the Master of Science in Health Studies for Clinical Professionals and the Master of Science in Biomedical Informatics.