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Training Programs

Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health
Clinical and Translational Research Training Program in Pulmonary Medicine
Conducting Child Health Care Research in Vulnerable Populations
Conducting Research in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology
Enrichment, Training, and Outreach Program of the DRTC
Fogarty International Clinical Research Scholars Support Center @ Vanderbilt-AAMC
Surgical Oncology Training Grant
University of Guyana-Vanderbilt-UCSF MPH Program for Guyana
Vanderbilt-Emory-Cornell-Duke Consortium for Global Health Fellows (VECDOR)
Vanderbilt Molecular and Genetic Epidemiology of Cancer (MAGEC)Training Program
Vanderbilt-Shanghai Chronic Disease Research Training Program (VU-Shanghai CDRTP)
Vanderbilt University-CIDRZ AIDS Capacity Building in Zambia
Vanderbilt University-CIDRZ AIDS International Training and Research Program (AITRP)
Vanderbilt-Zambia Network for Innovation in Global Health Technologies (VZNIGHT)
Virology Training Program

Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health

The goal of the Vanderbilt BIRCWH Scholars Program is to increase the pool of well-prepared investigators dedicated to advancing knowledge about women's health. Our scientific focus is to integrate the study of women's health and sex/gender differences into thriving research programs across the scientific spectrum, in order to actualize personalized prevention, diagnostics, and therapeutics for girls and women. We are building on a tradition of research excellence that includes the ongoing Shanghai Women's Health Study with 75,000+ participants, a prospective community-based pregnancy cohort of 7,190 women, DNA samples linked with clinical data for more than 132,000 patients, large tissue and biomarker banks, two decades of Medicaid data with record linkage, and numerous other examples of large scale programs making fundamental discoveries inside and outside the lab. Our 16 former and current scholars conduct research in content areas as diverse as immunologic aspects of lupus, gender differences in outcomes of ICU care, genetic underpinnings of racial disparities in adverse pregnancy outcomes, population-level patterns of exposure to opiates in pregnancy, and influence of iron balance on HIV disease trajectory. Alumni leave the program with an average of 17 total publications and to date have been awarded more than $9 million in extramural research support. BIRCWH Scholars are grounded in the fundamentals of women's health and sex differences research, prepared to lead independent and collaborative research programs, trained to effectively deploy innovative interdisciplinary approaches to attack and solve problems, and committed to pursuing research that brings individualized care for women closer to reality. Scholars are selected by competitive review of applications from among early career faculty. Training is tailored to the individual investigator, in the context of structured interdisciplinary mentorship, and is overseen by the PI, Program Director and Assistant Program Director (each a former BIRCWH Scholar). BIRCWH program resources are further enhanced by myriad institutional resources that ensure our researchers thrive. Scholars form a mentoring panel, participate in regular BIRCWH work-in- progress presentations and seminars, receive formal evaluation each year, attend twice-monthly career development seminar series with other K-awardees, and are regularly exposed to case studies on responsible conduct of research. They have access to: 1) an array of core labs and resources; 2) biostatistics consultations; 3) manuscript preparation work groups; 4) technical editing of completed products; 5) studios with experts to vet scientific ideas, research designs, and aims; 6) robust intramural pilot and feasibility funding; and 7) grant writing support includin grant workshops, a funded grant library, and mock study sections. Tools are in place to evaluate both mentees and mentors and to continuously enhance our program. Further oversight is provided by an Advisory Committee and biennial external reviews. Combined these efforts assure we carefully foster excellence in the next generation of women's health researchers. Read more.

Funding Source: NIH/NICHD
PI: Katherine E. Hartmann, MD, PhD

Clinical and Translational Research Training Program in Pulmonary Medicine

This research training program in pulmonary and critical care medicine, open to MD's that have completed their residency training and PhD's in health sciences, is in its fourth year. It is designed to provide 2 to 3 years of support for trainees in clinical and translational research and offers optional participation in the Vanderbilt Master of Science in Clinical Investigation (MSCI) and Master of Public Health (MPH) programs. To date, 7 trainees have joined the program, 5 MD's and 2 PhD's, 3 have participated in the MSCI program. There are 4 junior faculty participating in the mentor-in-training arm of the program. Given the success of the first 4 years, we are requesting renewal of funding support. Remarkable advances in the prevention, cure, and management of acute and chronic disease have occurred in past decades. However, there is growing national concern that expert clinical investigators who can translate new research findings to practice are decreasing in numbers. It has never been more important to create and maintain a cadre of physician-scientists, given the unprecedented developments at the cellular and molecular level, including knowledge of the human genome. Innovation in selection, training and career development of new investigators is greatly needed. Vanderbilt University has a very successful history in developing well trained researchers who have the vision and the skills with which to embark on successful careers in academic research, both basic and clinical. This training program, "Clinical and Translational Research Training Program in Pulmonary Medicine" will focus on training and mentoring researchers in all aspects of clinical and translational research necessary to prepare them for the unique challenges associated with advancing science in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. Although clinically oriented, the program includes an introduction to the basic mechanisms of disease and the importance of collaborating with basic researchers in hypothesizing and designing clinical research and offers trainees opportunities to explore hypotheses anywhere on the continuum of translational research. This training program accepts two new trainees per year (maximum 4 participants/yr). Applicants who show exceptional aptitude for successfully pursuing an academic research career are considered for participation. The program concentrates on developing expertise in three core areas: Asthma, Pulmonary Hypertension and Critical Care Research; areas of national recognition and presence for Vanderbilt. The Program Director's lead a team of experts in these areas who are engaged in successful academic research careers who play significant roles in supporting trainees in developing skills in understanding research; applying those skills; identifying and resolving research related process problems; and understanding and applying the principals of responsible conduct of research; in ways that will prepare them to utilize the skills they acquire in the pursuit of future academic research careers. Read more.

Funding Source: NIH/NHLBI
PI: Gordon Bernard

Conducting Child Health Care Research in Vulnerable Populations

This is a new T32 application from the Department of Pediatrics at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Our long term objective is to establish an institutional interdisciplinary program for the career development of pediatric physician-scientists who will become the future leaders in child health research in vulnerable populations. Such populations include children who are at risk for adverse health outcomes due to intrinsic biologic differences, elevated burdens of disease, or social characteristics such as financial limitations, place of residence, and inability to communicate effectively. The specific aims of this proposal are to identify qualified trainees at the end of residency or early in fellowship training and to provide them with an interdisciplinary research experience in the laboratory of a qualified mentor with adequate resources and space and ready access to unique populations of vulnerable children. To ensure long term success, this experience will in all cases be integrated with the Vanderbilt Master of Science in Clinical Investigation and Master of Public Health programs and an applied skills practicum in conducting research in vulnerable populations. In view of the strong applicant pool and the strengths of the proposed program, we propose support for three trainees in PGY-4 and three in PGY-5 and commit Departmental resources for a third PGY- 6 when necessary. The program directors will utilize an advisory committee composed of national experts within and external to Vanderbilt University to obtain ongoing advice with respect to candidate and mentor selection, scholarly progress of selected candidates and overall success. The proposal is broadly focused within four core disciplines that represent unique and substantial research strengths of Vanderbilt University and that define critical areas of need for new knowledge in child health research on vulnerable populations and include Pharmacoepidemiology/Pharmacogenomics, Neurodevelopment, Health Disparities, and Vaccinology/Epidemiology. Initiation of this program will permit the development of a cadre of highly-qualified pediatric physician-scientists with the skills, knowledge and dedication to solve some of the most important health care issues currently facing our nation's children. Read more.

Funding Source: NIH/NICHD
PI: William O. Cooper

Conducting Research in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology

There has been an explosion in molecular biology together with the sequencing of the human genome, development of increasingly complex bioinformatics techniques, translation of laboratory discoveries to targeting anti-neoplastic therapies and advances in multi-modality therapies. To accelerate such progress, it is essential to have scientifically rigorous, highly integrated, multidisciplinary training programs in the key areas outlined by the National Cancer Institute (NCI): cancer biology, cancer prevention and control, cancer diagnosis, prognosis and treatment. This training grant will advance the mission of personalized medicine to individualize understanding of disease pathogenesis, treatment and outcomes for the next generation of academic pediatric hematologists/oncologists. The goal of the proposed training program is to establish a unique interdisciplinary program that leverages the strengths of the Vanderbilt School of Medicine and the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and our current fellowship in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology. Our objective is to prepare trainees to become successful independently-funded scientific investigators in basic, translational, clinical population-based cancer research. All eligible trainees will have already obtained an M.D. degree as well as completed residency training in pediatrics or combined medicine/pediatrics. It is anticipated that two new trainees per year will participate in the training program, which consists of three years of training, of which funding for Years 2 and 3 will be supported from funds from this T32 grant. The available programs of research include research in Cancer Epidemiology, Prevention and Control, Host-Tumor Interactions, Signal Transduction and Cell Proliferation, Genome Maintenance, Gastrointestinal, Thoracic and Head & Neck and Breast Cancer. In addition, trainees have the opportunity to work with scientists in the Departments of Pediatrics, Medicine, Surgery, Biochemistry, Psychology, Chemistry, Physics, Pathology, Radiation Oncology, Cell and Developmental Biology, Physiology, Pharmacology, Neurology, and Immunology. There are two defined training pathways under which these research opportunities fall: 1) Basic and Translational Research and, 2) Clinical and Population Based Research. The Basic and Translational Research Science Pathway will focus on three main thematic areas: genomic sciences, chemical biology and proteomics and translational medicine with animal models and will provide the trainee with an intensive mentored research experience that focuses on discovery in the laboratory and the translation of laboratory discoveries to targeted anti-neoplastic therapies. The Clinical and Population-Based Science Pathway is designed to provide the trainee with an intensive mentored research experience that focuses on cancer throughout the control continuum, including prevention, diagnosis and treatment, supportive care, survivorship and palliative care. Each of the pathways has programmatic goals with an over-riding emphasis to provide a deep research training experience through both didactic teaching and mentored research.

Funding Source: NIH/NCI
PI: Debra Friedman

Enrichment, Training, and Outreach Program of the DRTC

The Enrichment, Training, and Outreach Program of the DRTC orchestrates a range of essential DRTC activities that greatly enhance the environment for diabetes research at Vanderbilt. The Vanderbilt DRTC is an active organizer of and participant in local and broad outreach and training efforts. The goals of the DRTC Enrichment, Training and Outreach Program are threefold: 1) To coordinate and provide enrichment activities that enhance the exchange of information and ideas to foster collaboration and advancement in diabetes research; 2) To provide support and leadership for training activities that enhance diabetes research both locally and in the broader scientific community; and 3) To coordinate and support outreach efforts to Vanderbilt community, middle Tennessee area and beyond. The Vanderbilt DRTC uses multiple mechanisms to enhance the diabetes research and training environment on the Vanderbilt campus including, a weekly seminar series, an annual Diabetes Research Day, and an annual Diabetes Month with events across the campus. In addition, DRTC-affiliated investigators are associated with three major training grants on campus and direct and teach in multiple courses that are open to the Vanderbilt community and beyond. Substantial resources provided by Vanderbilt University augment the DRTC funds, allowing us to have an even greater impact on campus and in the broader community. Read more.

Funding Source: NIH/NIDDK
PI: Maureen Gannon

Fogarty International Clinical Research Scholars Support Center @ Vanderbilt-AAMC

The Vanderbilt-MMC Fogarty International Clinical Research Scholars Support Center (FICRS) seeks to nurture and manage global health research training within centers of excellence identified by the NIH in developing countries. Our goal is to help train and inspire both US and foreign graduate students in research techniques and topic areas applicable to resource-limited and/or tropical countries. Our response to this RFA builds on our experience as the current partner of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) in the management of the FIC/Ellison Medical Foundation "Overseas Fellowships in Global Health and Clinical Research", now terminating. Our proposed FICRS will have expanded responsibilities, as delineated by the RFA, including direct funding of the sites responsible for the mentorship of the Fogarty International Scholars (FIS), funding the stipends and expenses of the scholars, and substantial web-based information systems. These duties join the incumbent responsibilities of organizing the selection and matching process for FIS yearly, providing the orientation training at the NIH in July, and establishing a very long-term (20 year) trainee tracking system. The substantial administrative role of funding the sponsoring sites and the FIS will also be centralized into the FICRS. One vision underlying our application is efficient administration of career-transforming experiences designed to nurture careers in international clinical and public health research. We have capped our total budget at 15% for administration, ensuring that 85% go into the direct training and support of the FIS themselves. To further maximize the number of trainees that can be supported and the quality of research that they can do, we propose to seek co-payments from the graduate schools of the selected students, investing the schools themselves with a concrete interest in the training outcome, and seeking to institutionalize this program, at least in part, in U.S. academia to ensure its sustainability. The Specific Aims focus on facilitating all aspects of mentored clinical research training for graduate-level U.S. health sciences students and host country counterparts at international sites collaborating with competitively funded U.S. investigators of renown. We have reached out to schools of medicine (allopathic, osteopathic, and veterinary), nursing, public health, dentistry, optometry, and pharmacy so far, including minority-serving institutions and FIC/NIH "Global Framework" grantees. Read more.

Funding Source: FIC
PI: Sten Vermund

Surgical Oncology Training Grant

This application requests continuing support for post-doctoral training in surgical oncology research for four fellows. The Vanderbilt Department of Surgery has had a continuing commitment to mentored research for both resident research fellows and junior surgical oncology research faculty. Given the rapid pace and complexity of both basic and clinical research, it is imperative to provide trainees with the requisite armamentarium of investigative skills during post-doctoral training. The establishment of both research proficiency and a pattern of mentored training are critical for the promotion of successful academic career pathways. Importantly, configured a multidisciplinary training program to allow development of investigators along basic, patient- oriented or clinical research tracks. All three of these research paradigms are considered crucial to the success of broad-based cancer related investigation. The objective of this program is to prepare surgical residents and post-doctoral fellows for investigative careers in research fields related to surgical oncology. Fellows commit at least two years to intensive training in basic, translational or clinical research through a mentored training environment necessary for the development of experience and proficiency in investigative techniques and reasoning, For those interested in basic science research training, opportunities for mentored investigation are available in the laboratories of scientists with broad interests in cancer biology. In addition to bench research training, fellows in the basic research track will participate in didactic course work as determined by the individual advisory committees. Fellows interested in patient-oriented research training will pursue a Masters of Science in Clinical Investigation (MSCI). The MSCI program combines broad didactic coursework with a mentored research experience focused on patient related material or therapeutic intervention. Finally, those interested in epidemiological or outcomes research will pursue a Masters of Public Health (MPH). The MPH program combines didactic coursework in clinical epidemiology with a mentored clinical research project. These three training tracks allow fellows to pursue pathways best suited to their career objectives.

Funding Source: NIH/NCI
PI: James Goldenring

University of Guyana-Vanderbilt-UCSF MPH Program for Guyana

Vanderbilt and UCSF are partnering with the University of Guyana to develop and implement a Master of Public Health (MPH) program designed by Guyanese health professionals and educators to meet public health needs identified by the Guyanese stakeholders. Read more.

Funding Source: NIH/CGH
PI: Doug Heimburger

Vanderbilt-Emory-Cornell-Duke Consortium for Global Health Fellows (VECDOR)

The Vanderbilt-Emory-Cornell-Duke Consortium (VECDor) brings the substantial and complementary expertise of experienced institutions to the Fogarty Global Health Fellows Program. The Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health (VIGH) has served as the Fogarty International Clinical Research Scholars and Fellows (FICRS-F) Program Support Center since 2007, working with 87 partner institutions to nurture 419 competitively chosen pre- and postdoctoral trainees from the US and from 27 low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Topics have included infectious diseases, cancer, heart and lung disease, stroke, diabetes, nutrition, behavioral and mental health issues (including substance abuse), women's and children's health, ophthalmic disease, oral health, neurology, and animal-human health. VECDor's highly experienced global health mentors are already working together in the US and LMIC partner institutions, selected as diverse, well-funded research sites in Africa (Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania, Rwanda), Asia (India, China, Vietnam), Latin America (Brazil, Mexico), and the Caribbean (Haiti). Using a highly efficient support center that maximizes the direction of funds to research training, and leveraging multiple sources of financial and in-kind co-funding, we will link with more than 68 T32 and other NIH-funded training programs and with minority institution partners to select and deploy 80 to 100 US and LMIC trainees with outstanding promise for research careers. VECDor will implement a strategic mentoring and trainee support plan across the consortium, including a substantial preparation phase prior to field deployment and continuing after the research year is completed, to ensure the highest quality research publications and scientific meeting presentations, and maximum trainee success in obtaining research and career development grants. Research themes will address all topic and geographical areas of interest to trainees and NIH Institutes and Centers, emphasizing both communicable and non-communicable diseases. We will document the Program's impact through a long-term monitoring and evaluation (M&E) plan that tracks the career directions and outputs of all Fellows, using FIC's CareerTrac system, e.g., future employment, K grants, research grants, scientific presentations, and publications. We will further refine our existing web-based tools to share knowledge, foster local and global networking, and strengthen and sustain clinical research skills among global health fellows and alumni. We have brokered substantial institutional and site-based co-funding to leverage NIH resources. VECDor is built on the mutual respect of our US and global partners and our collective track record of research innovation and mentorship. Combining our extensive recent experience in research training program management, robust research funding bases in major diseases of global significance, renowned international research training partners and sites, and enhanced institutional co-funding commitments, VECDor will continue to nurture key members of the global health research workforce of the 21st century, as we have done within the incumbent FICRS-F program. Read more.

Funding Source: FIC
PI: Sten Vermund

Vanderbilt Molecular and Genetic Epidemiology of Cancer (MAGEC) Training Program

This program is designed to address the urgent need to build an elite class of epidemiologists to lead the new era of multidisciplinary collaborative research in cancer by delivering individualized didactic and research training to equip postdoctoral fellows from a variety of disciplines with the methodological tools, practical laboratory and survey-research knowledge, and hands-on research and grant writing experience necessary to launch independent careers in the molecular and genetic epidemiology of cancer. Read more.

Funding Source: NIH/NCI
PI: Xiao Ou Shu, Doug Heimburger

Vanderbilt-Shanghai Chronic Disease Research Training Program (VU-Shanghai CDRTP)

The Vanderbilt-Shanghai Chronic Disease Research Training Program, funded by the NIH Fogarty International Center, aims to train a new generation of scientists and future leaders in chronic disease research in China and equip them with the expertise to conduct multi-disciplinary chronic disease research and build research and training capacity, as well as establish long-term international collaborative partnerships in chronic disease research and prevention. The training program includes the organization of two workshops and an international conference on chronic disease research and prevention in China and the training of 18 medium-term (6-month) and long-term (12-month) visiting fellows at the Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center. The program primarily focuses on advanced training in epidemiological and biostatistical methodology, design and execution of multidisciplinary research projects, and building expertise in cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes research, as well as grant writing skills. Read more.

Funding Source: FIC
PI: Xiao Ou Shu

Vanderbilt University-CIDRZ AIDS International Training and Research Program (AITRP)

The Vanderbilt-CIDRZ AITRP training partnership with international collaborators from 5 countries (Zambia, China, India, Pakistan, Mozambique) is designed to train foreign scientists and key research support staff to conduct independent research and training in their home countries, as well as perform at an internationally credible level in collaborations with both local and foreign scientists.   Read more.

Funding Source: FIC
PI: Sten Vermund

Vanderbilt University-CIDRZ AITRP Capacity Building in Zambia

The purpose of this CDC supported supplement is to build institutional and individual research capacity and sustainability in HIV-related biomedical and behavioral research in Zambia. The activities supported by this supplement aim to develop and train Zambian clinical investigators to be leaders in independent research.  We have developmental south-south training activity on behalf of Nigeria, as well.

Funding Source: CDC
PI: Sten Vermund

Vanderbilt-Zambia Network for Innovation in Global Health Technologies (VZNIGHT)

This project aims to nurture 12 American and Zambian postdoctoral research trainees (4 cohorts of 3) in an integrated training environment to develop and deploy new low-resource diagnostic technologies to enable Zambia to move toward its goal of eradicating malaria.  Trainees and mentors include basic scientists, engineering scientists, and global health and clinical scientists working together. Read more.

Funding Source: FIC
PI: David Wright

Virology Training Program

This proposal requests support for the predoctoral student Virology Training Program (VTP) at Vanderbilt University. The primary goal of the Vanderbilt VTP is to identify, mentor, and foster the careers of future leaders in academic biomedical science who are dedicated to research in the area of virology. This is an application for a new integrated training program; however the investigator group is remarkably experienced in training both predoctoral and postdoctoral scientists for careers in virology. The program is based on rigorous training in virology and interdisciplinary research areas that contribute to studies of viruses. Successful completion of the VTP leads to the Ph.D. degree. Core elements of the program include formal coursework in virology and immunology, a literature-based seminar series, career development workshop, invited scientist speaker series, and an annual retreat. Formal instruction in responsible conduct of research is provided throughout the curriculum. An integrated mentoring program offers opportunities for student advising by faculty members. The applicant pool results from concerted recruiting efforts, including those focused on the recruitment of students from groups underrepresented in medicine. The educational environment for scientists in virology at Vanderbilt University is outstanding. The investigator group holds approximately $9 million dollars in investigator-initiated extramural research funding in the area of virologic sciences. The institution also hosts a large number of NIH funded multi-investigator research efforts in this area including the SouthEast Regional Center of Excellence in Biodefense, a Center for AIDS Research, an NIAID Vaccine Testing and Evaluation Unit, an HIV Vaccine Testing Network site. The program is supported by faculty mentors from the Departments of Biological Sciences, Microbiology and Immunology, Adult Infectious Diseases, Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Pathology, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and from research centers including the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center, Center for Structural Biology, and the Lamb Center for Pediatric Research. The proposal requests funded positions for 2 new students a year (effectively 4 steady state trainees in the program during each after year 1). This request for support for the Vanderbilt VTP is based on the strength of the applicant pool, enhanced opportunities for training scientists in virology, and an institutional commitment to the education of leaders in virologic research. RELEVANCE: The Vanderbilt Virology Training Program will support the predoctoral training of basic scientists who seek to define fundamental mechanisms underlying viral replication, pathogenesis, structure-function relationships, and host-pathogen interactions. The broad significance of this program will be realized through the academic and scholarly accomplishments of the trainees focused on discovery of basic mechanisms underlying virus biology. Read more.

Funding Source: NIH/NIAID
PI: James Crowe