The overall objective of the program is to train physicians in otolaryngology for a career that combines laboratory research with clinical practice. This unique Research Training Program at the University of Pittsburgh enables trainees to develop both basic research and clinical skills. Potential trainees are selected from the outstanding pool of candidates that apply to the Residency or Fellowship Programs in Otolaryngology. Trainees can select preceptors with research interests that span a variety of disciplines including auditory or vestibular science, neurobiology, allergy and immunology, wound healing and cancer biology. Two, 3- month protected research blocks are provided in the PGY-3 and PGY-5 years with the dedicated research year in the PGY-4 year to allow for 18 months of continuous research training. During this protected research time, trainees can also participate in a formal Research Methodology Training Program at the University of Pittsburgh (formerly K30, now CTSI). Trainees are encouraged to develop their own independent research program as they transition to junior faculty. Strong interactions with a newly funded T32 that provides training in basic neuroscience and the clinical aspects of hearing and balance disorders for pre- and postdoctoral PhD trainees will facilitate complete integration of these two training programs into a single T32 in the department of otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh by 2016. The ultimate goal is for trainees to establish themselves in an academic environment not only as clinician researchers, but also as translational scientists.
This program provides an important opportunity for medical students and otolaryngology residents and fellows to acquire the necessary training to become physician-scientists. Diseases of the ears, nose and throat affect a large percentage of our population and are associated with substantial morbidity (e.g. hearing loss, balance disorders, voice disorders, chronic infections) and/or mortality (e.g. head and neck cancer). Clinicians, including otolaryngologists, do not have sufficient training in basic and translational research approaches during the standard residency and/or fellowship program to embark on an independent research career. This unique training program takes advantage of the substantial clinical and research resources and at the University of Pittsburgh focused ENT diseases. We have demonstrated a successful track record of preparing physicians for academic careers as academic otolaryngologists as we continue to refine the training program to take advantage of new opportunities in our environment.
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