T32 Resident Research Training Program

Objective: Our TCV Surgery Research Training Program has been continuously funded since 2000 by an NIH T32 Training award with Dr. Irving Kron as the Principle Investigator. This training program provides collaboration between basic scientists and surgical faculty to train academic cardiothoracic surgeons. The main objective of our program is to provide surgery residents with hypothesis-driven research training in laboratory or clinical research in order to foster their development into independent academic translational researchers. Translational research defines the area of overlap between basic and clinical studies, where new therapies, interventions, assays, etc. are brought out of the laboratory for human benefit. The primary discipline which our program focuses on is translational research into vascular and end-organ function following transplantation or surgery.

History: Our Program has been very beneficial for past trainees who have been supported through our NIH-funded Training Grant. Many alumni of our training program have continued their careers as academic surgeons.

Participating Departments, Programs, and Faculty: Our Training Program includes several participating departments within the University of Virginia School of Medicine. The participating departments (and mentors) include:

  • Dept. of Surgery (Irving Kron, Victor Laubach, Craig Slingluff, Gorav Ailawadi, Gib Upchurch, Chris Lau, Robert Sawyer, Benjamin Kozower, Valeria Mas, and Zequan Yang)
  • Dept. of Medicine (Mark Okusa, Brian Annex, Coleen McNamara)
  • Dept. of Public Health Sciences (George Stukenborg)
  • Dept. of Molecular Physiology & Biological Physics (Mark Yeager)
  • Dept. of Neurology (Karen Johnston)
  • Dept. of Biomedical Engineering (Brent French, Jeff Holmes)
  • Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center (Gary Owens)

These departments and mentors have a strong record of collaboration and training, and a major strength of our Training Program is the inter-departmental and multidisciplinary support that each trainee experiences. Through the utilization of these various faculty and departments, a broad range of potential research projects is maintained, highlighting the multidisciplinary approach of our program.

Model: The program is a 2-year program designed for surgical residents who usually will have completed two years of clinical training prior to entering the laboratory. Trainees have opportunities to conduct basic research as well as clinical research. There are required courses for all trainees including courses in scientific investigation, the ethics of scientific investigation, biostatistics and a multi disciplinary lecture series in the cardiovascular research center.  Other courses in the basic science areas can be chosen as desired by the trainees.

Tracks: Residents in our program must choose from one of two possible “tracks”: a basic research track or a clinical research track. In the “basic research track”, residents focus on mentor-guided laboratory research projects. These residents will also receive introductory didactic training in clinical research by enrolling in four graduate-level courses which will lead to a Certificate in Public Health Sciences. This program is offered through UVA’s Department of Public Health Sciences. We feel that didactic training in clinical research is a valuable commodity to the residents in this track. Residents who choose the “clinical research track” will be those who desire training more intensely focused on clinical research. These residents will participate in mentor-guided clinical research projects and will enroll in the Masters of Science Program in Clinical Research (MS-CR) which is offered by the Department of Public Health Sciences.

Mentorship: Trainees will select a laboratory, a primary mentor, and a secondary mentor (one being a cardiothoracic surgeon and one being a non-cardiothoracic surgeon) within one month after beginning the program. A Training Committee will also be formed for each trainee which will be comprised of the primary mentor, secondary mentor, and two other preceptors from our program who will provide complementary mentorship related to the trainee’s area of study. It is required that at least one Training Committee member be a preceptor who specializes in clinical research. We encourage trainees to make these decisions as early as possible. The Training Committee will provide diverse perspective and feedback to trainees on a regular basis in terms of both laboratory and clinical training. Each trainee shall meet with his/her Training Committee within 2 months of appointment to devise a plan for research, classes, training and evaluation over the next two years. Every three months thereafter the trainee shall formally meet with his/her Training Committee to evaluate progress, discuss ideas and make any necessary changes in direction/focus. In addition, trainees will also participate in weekly lab meetings of the primary and secondary mentors.

Laboratory and Preceptor: Each trainee, with guidance from his/her Training Committee, will select a primary research project within the first two months of the training period. All trainees will attend and present at weekly research meetings of their mentor’s research lab. Trainees in the basic research track will present their recent laboratory research where group discussion with other laboratory members will help with troubleshooting and other project goals. Trainees in the clinical research track will also attend weekly research meetings with faculty to participate in data analysis, evaluation, consent, enrollment, and other issues in ongoing clinical research projects.

For further information on our training program, please contact Tony Herring.