The T35 Program for Health Professional Students at the University of Chicago is aimed at promoting the career development of physician scientists who will view research activity and biomedical investigation as an essential part of their long-term professional goals, particularly in the mission areas of the NIDDK (digestive diseases, diabetes/metabolism, kidney/urological diseases). The program provides students with a wide choice of opportunities for high quality, mentor-based research over a 12 weeks training spanning the spring quarter of the 1st year to the beginning of 2nd year of medical school. The program selects highly qualified trainees by means of a formal application and evaluation process. Students are counseled to identify a research project and select mentor from any of the clinical and basic science departments of the Biological Sciences Division (BSD)). Several mechanisms are used to oversee the program and student progress, including weekly cluster group meetings, a web-based reporting system that sets weekly benchmarks for students, and regular performance review by steering committee members. In addition, the program requires students to submit a final written report and to present their findings to peers and faculty at the closing scientific research forum. In addition to doing hypothesis-driven research, students undergo didactic and case-based training in the responsible conduct of research and instruction in bioinformatics and biostatistics. To assess the immediate and long-term impact of the program, a tracking system has been developed by the Medical Education and Alumni Affairs office. Trainees will be followed up to 15 years after graduation to continually assess the impact of the program in promoting further research activities and career choices in NIDDK mission areas. By early indicators, the program is enormously successful, attracting the best and most highly qualified students. Since 2004, 50% or more of the students have selected research investigations in NIDDK mission areas. We are requesting continued support for the research training of 30 students/year. The program enjoys strong institutional support, evidenced by cost-sharing, provision of space, resources, and training by the BSD, CTSA, and NIDDK-supported DDRCC and DRTC. In addition, the program is a key component of the Scholarship and Discovery program of the revised medical curriculum that includes other federally funded pre and post doctoral training grants and an MSTP training program. The academic base of the University includes other large research centers and programs, a 650-bed teaching hospital, a large and well equipped physical plant for biomedical research, a HHMI, and a research base of over 250 investigators who hold peer-reviewed grant support. In addition, the University has particularly strong research strengths in the areas of Diabetes, Digestive Diseases and Kidney Disease, exemplified by the robust interactions/collaborations and many NIH and extramural institutional and individual research grants in these areas. Thus, the environment is ideal to support the goals of this NIDDK-supported medical student T35 program.
The Short Term Training Program for Health Professional Students at the University of Chicago promotes the career development of physician scientists in the mission areas of the NIDDK by providing medical students with a wide choice of opportunities for high quality, mentor-based research within a highly supportive environment of scholarship and discovery.
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