One of the areas of emphasis for NHLBI T32 programs is to develop new investigators with the necessary competencies and breadth of expertise needed for the future of biomedical research. A universal experience which is central to the research training experience of all trainees is the mentored research project itself, and this program provides hands-on exposure to all aspects of conceptualizing and doing research and opportunities for individualized, incremental, and organic development of the trainee’s investigative skills. It is also important that the mentored research project experience is supplemented and complemented by other in-depth learning opportunities occurring in parallel. However, our trainees come from different backgrounds, research experience and investigative interests, as well as having differences in educational paths (both MD's and PhD's). Thus, to provide the most effective training experience and achieve the goals outlined by the NHLBI, we have developed and implemented a multi-tiered curriculum:
- Tier 1 consists of core curriculum lectures, meetings, and activities intended to provide all trainees with basic concepts, clinical contexts, questions, approaches, and issues in modern biomedical research over a typical three-year training period.
- Tier 2 training is intended to provide the more in-depth and specific information that trainees working in a given field will require as background preparation for pursuit of their individual research projects.
- Tier 3 includes degree programs that represent an additional option for accomplishing advanced training.
As their research projects demand it, individual trainees can elect additional training in key scientific domains from Tiers 2 and 3 that are more specific to the trainee’s research interest and direction. Finally, each trainee will participate in the Responsible Conduct of Research curriculum. The curriculum and its training tiers are presented below.
Tier 1: Core Curriculum (required)
The Core Curriculum is divided into:
- Mechanisms of disease
- Clinical science
- Career Development
The didactic lectures are integrated into the three regular weekly conferences in the Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine.
Tier 2: Advanced Training Modules (electives)
Tier 2 training is intended to provide the more in-depth and specific information that trainees working in a given field will require as background preparation for pursuit of their individual research projects. Tier 2 training will include modules focused on both basic and patient-oriented research training. Specific training modules include, but are not limited to the following:
- Postdoctoral Research Training Program
- Bioinformatics Training through the Department of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics (CCMB)
- Microbiome Training Workshops
- MICHR Core Educational Series supported by the University of Michigan Clinical & Translational Science Award (CTSA)
- Formal coursework in Microbiology, Immunology, Biochemistry, and Human Genetics
Tier 3: Advanced Degree Programs (electives)
Degree programs represent an additional option for accomplishing advanced training. Trainees who are pursuing patient-oriented research require comprehensive and formal training in relevant fields such as clinical research design, epidemiology, health economics, and advanced biostatistical methods. For all such trainees, this will be accomplished by formal matriculation into one of the below unique programs:
- On Job/On Campus (OJ/OC) Master’s Program in Clinical Research Design and Statistical Analysis - Offers a rich opportunity for trainees to acquire the necessary skills and methods to perform clinical research, including expertise in epidemiology, biostatistics, clinical trials program evaluation and technology assessment. The OJ/OC program allows trainees to obtain their MS degree following an 18-month period in which one 4-day weekend per month of intensive instruction and in-class workshops are supplemented by reading and on-line homework assignments in the intervening interval. This program can be completed simultaneous with the trainee pursuing his/her own research project, and the data from the trainee’s own project can be utilized for in-class assignments. The Master's Degree program includes concepts of validity, reliability, causal relationships, role of randomization, and standards for comparison and sampling. Methods for designing studies related to research outcomes, decision analysis, and cost utility analysis are included. Instruction is provided in data collection methods including questionnaire construction, survey techniques, measurement and standardization problems, concepts and criteria of normalcy and disease and diagnostic criteria. Statistical techniques address and include hypothesis testing, as well as mathematical modeling and demographic techniques.
- Institute for Healthcare Policy & Innovation (IHPI) Clinician Scholars Program - This program builds on the very successful foundation of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Clinical Scholars Program. The program is a 2-3 year training program that provides skills and perspectives vital to excelling in health services research. The first year is primarily devoted to course work leading to the Master’s Degree. The second year is primarily devoted to research. The third year is optional and is dedicated primarily to research. The IHPI Clinician Scholars Program offers unique clinical and community-based research training through intensive mentorship for clinicians as change agents driving policy-relevant research and partnerships to improve health and healthcare. The University of Michigan program is one of four sites nationally who offer the program.