The number of surgeons trained to perform research in humans, including translational research, is inadequate when considering that close to half of all patients hospitalized with acute illness either require an operation or are cared for by surgeons. Many of these patients suffer from infections or have received organ transplants and are managed almost exclusively by surgeons and are of interest to the NIAID. The two objectives of this application are 1) To increase the number of surgeons who perform meaningful translational research in the future by systematically training research residents in the methods of multiple levels of clinical research, particularly in the area of infection complicating acute illness or transplantation, and 2) To increase the number of minority surgeons in academic practice who will be able to improve the health of historically underserved patient populations with increased rates of death. Surgical residents with two or three years of clinical training will be admitted to the program, with a total of four trainees at any given time. Students will usually enter a dedicated, two to three year training period that will include a core clinical project related to infectious diseases affecting acutely ill or transplanted patients, and coursework in the University of Virginia Department of Public Health Sciences that will result in a Masters Degree in Public Health or Clinical Research. Alternatively, a small number of students may elect a core laboratory research experience related to surgical infections or transplantation that will, with the addition of classes and small group seminars in the Department of Public Health Sciences, equip them for an academic career in translational research. Through these techniques, a cohort of young, well-trained surgeons will be developed who will have the tools to perform high quality, ethical human research specifically centered on that interface of clinical and basic science that is translational research.
Only a small number of surgeons perform research specifically aimed at improving the outcomes of these patients by safely introducing new scientific breakthroughs to their care. We propose to train young surgeons, including those from traditionally underrepresented minorities, to be able to perform this research throughout their careers and increase the survival of patients suffering from severe surgical diseases.
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