Endemic and epidemic infectious diseases pose increasing global danger as the world becomes more interconnected. However, there are relatively few institutions engaged in training infectious disease epidemiologists. Of those that are trained, relatively few are equipped to work at the crossroads of lab science and population-based clinical and behavioral research. The University of North Carolina Department of Epidemiology is now applying for a 3rd 5-year funding cycle for our Training in Infectious Disease Epidemiology (TIDE) NIAID T32. Our program has been very successful in several ways. First, with impetus from the T32, we developed a core curriculum in infectious disease epidemiology and made sure that all of our trainees were exposed to interdisciplinary approaches to infectious diseases research. We have had 3 PhD trainee slots per year for all 10 years, and one post-doc slot per year for the past five years. Second, our trainees have been highly successful in obtaining jobs in ID epidemiology. Of the 20 trainees who have finished their training programs, 10 have academic appointments (6 tenure-track, 3 research or clinical track, 1 postdoc) and 7 are at the CDC, either in the EIS or as full-time employees. The others all have research-focused positions in other public health organizations or agencies. Third, our efforts at increasing diversity have paid off: 4 of the 14 trainees in our last funding cycle (29%) have been under-represented minorities. We also have excellent representation of female trainees (69% to date). For the next 5-year cycle, we are planning to strengthen our emphasis on interdisciplinary research. We are requesting the same number of pre-doc slots, plus one additional post-doc slot. As previously, the pre-docs will all be incorporating interdisciplinary work into their research. The post-docs will be required to do interdisciplinary research with co-mentors ? one epidemiologist plus one ?interdisciplinary? co-mentor, with expertise in laboratory, behavioral or clinical research aspects of infectious diseases. In addition, we plan to further strengthen our professional development training and our outreach efforts to minority candidates. In summary, we hope to build on the remarkable success to date of this training program by continuing to train outstanding young infectious disease epidemiologists to meet an important public health need.
Infectious disease (ID) epidemiologists play a critical role in public health. By provide training in this field to doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows, the doctoral students will benefit from a strong group of mentors and a new ID epidemiology core curriculum. The post-doctoral fellows will conduct interdisciplinary research under the guidance of epidemiologists and basic scientists.
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