The overarching goals of the Washington University T32 Program in Academic Gastroenterology are to train, nurture and develop academic physicians and physician-scientists (MD and MD/PhD trainees) for productive and sustaining careers as bench or clinical translational investigators, scholarly and institutional leaders in the broad field of digestive and liver diseases. This Program offers structured opportunities for two trainees per year (4 trainees total) for mentored training in either laboratory-based scientific discovery (Track 1), or alternatively in defined areas of clinical translational research, including disease prevention, health disparities, quality outcomes, public health and epidemiology (Track 2). In this renewal application, we seek additional support for two predoctoral slots a year, to recruit members of the graduate student and MSTP community into scientific careers in digestive and liver disease. These overarching goals, reflected in the Rigor of Prior Research, are realized through intensive and sustained interactions with 28 participating faculty (14 Track 1; 14 Track 2), individualized programs of research program design, dedicated planning and career guidance with targets for progressive academic development, supplemented where appropriate by course work and guided study leading to Masters degrees in Clinical Investigation or Public Health for postdoctoral trainees and the PhD degree for predoctoral trainees.
Our specific aims for the current proposal include: (1). Maintain a rigorous recruitment and selection process that integrates clinical and research training with career guidance to sustain a legacy of producing scholarly, research-focused MD and MD/PhD gastroenterologists. (2). Develop an exceptional pipeline of predoctoral students who will pursue research in digestive and liver research and advance the field. (3). Create a supportive, responsive and flexible administrative structure to attract and nurture the most exceptional trainees, particularly women and underrepresented minorities. (4). Provide a structured training environment with the flexibility to accommodate individualized programs of research training, mentored academic career guidance and support, including continued comprehensive training in the ethical conduct of research. (5). Encourage and support postdoctoral trainees to obtain advanced degrees in Clinical Investigation or Public Health and to obtain formal training where needed in basic and/or applied clinical sciences. (6). Continue a vigorous external speaker series through partnership with Division and Digestive Disease Research Cores Center (DDRCC) seminars, and visiting professor engagements that will offer trainees the opportunity to interact with thought leaders as well as encouraging collaborations and scientific interaction. (7). Devise and implement career development programs tailored to enhance the transition of trainees to junior faculty status, whether at Washington University or at another academic institution. (8). Evaluate and modify the curriculum in response to trainees' needs, reflecting changes in the health care and funding climates with continuous quality improvement processes.
Training the future leaders of gastroenterology requires a broad multidisciplinary approach. This training program is built around the philosophy that the future of academic gastroenterology requires nurturing and dedicated training for predoctoral scientists, research-oriented physicians and physician-scientists who will exploit opportunities in basic, translational and clinical research, including health services and public health research.
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