As is the case with all specialties of medicine, the practice of podiatric medicine was initially founded primarily upon anecdotal evidence and is in need of soundly conducted research to guide future "evidence based medicine." Being a relatively young discipline, podiatry has not developed institutionalized research in most of its institutions and there is a subsequent shortage of opportunities for podiatric medical students interested in careers in biomedical and clinical research. The Summer Research Fellowship Program serves as the first opportunity for students at The William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (RFUMS) to actively take part in research. The program is designed to provide podiatric medicine (predoctoral) students practical experience in the conduct of research. As diabetes induced complications of the lower extremities is one of, if not the, biggest challenges facing podiatrists, the majority of trainees conduct research regarding the etiology, prevention, or treatment of diabetic complications such as diabetic foot ulcers. Due to its position within a health sciences university student trainees from Scholl College have the opportunity to participate in a vast spectrum of research within the niche of diabetes care. Each summer up to 12 students are paired with a research mentor either from Scholl College or one RFUMS's four other colleges (Chicago Medical School, College of Health Professions, College of Pharmacy, Scholl of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies). This allows students the choice to participate in basic, translational, or clinical biomedical research studies. Although there are a vast number of potential departments/labs to train in, historically students have primarily worked with faculty from one of the following departments/labs: the Center for Lower Extremity Ambulatory Research (CLEAR), The Midwest Proteome Center, Scholl College's Department of Basic and Biomedical Sciences, The Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, The Human Performance (Gait) Lab, and Scholl College's Department of Podiatric Medicine and Radiology. In addition to each trainee working on their individualized research project with their faculty mentor, the entire cohort of trainees meet weekly as a group for enrichment activities including both traditional lectures by faculty on varied research topics as well as interactive activities such as journal clubs and oral presentations. The initial award of this NRSA T35 grant has substantially helped the program to continue to direct numerous podiatric students towards fruitful ventures into clinical research.
Diabetes is the number one cause of non-traumatic amputations within the United States and these amputations are necessitated by a number of detrimental changes induced by diabetes upon the lower limbs. Much research is needed in order to reduce amputations and other detrimental changes to the lower limbs and although podiatrist provide much of the care for treating diabetic complications of the legs and feet, podiatry is presently underrepresented in biomedical and clinical research. This training program serves to instill future podiatrists with the necessary skills and knowledge required to conduct the essential research to battle this significant challenge.
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