During the first year of the Research Training Program, fellows participate in formal courses in biostatistics, research methodology and computer applications offered through the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Bloomberg School of Public Health. The faculty assists the fellow in identifying and defining his/her research interests. Research studies may be clinical, basic science or both. Currently, there is active research within the Division involving cystic fibrosis, asthma, developmental and respiratory cell biology, epithelial transport, mucociliary clearance, lung injury models, pulmonary delivery of drugs, control of breathing and sleep disorders, and gene therapy. In the second and third years, the fellow will be expected to complete his/her research project(s) and to define his/her long-term research goals. It is also expected that results from this project will be presented at a national research meeting and submitted for publication by completion of the fellowship experience.
Fellows select a research mentor from inside or outside of the Division to help them with their research training. For fellows who enter the program with well-defined interests and goals, choosing a mentor and research project will be a straightforward process. Some fellows, however, are less certain about which of several interests to pursue. In this case, the fellow confers with the Program Director and several members of the Executive Committee who suggest three to four preceptors who share the fellow’s interests. The fellow meets with the faculty, becomes acquainted with their research and the relevant scientific literature, and may assist in ongoing projects. On the basis of this experience, which may require four to six weeks, the fellow chooses a mentor, who will be subject to approval by the Program Director. Fellows are permitted to select a research mentor from inside or outside of the division.
After two to three months of laboratory and library work and discussions with the chosen research mentor, the fellow chooses a specific research problem. Initially, mentor and trainee work together directly on the experiment. As the fellow gains investigational maturity, he/she is encouraged to plan and execute experiments independently. The fellow also analyzes and interprets the data, synthesizes new information from the literature, and writes a manuscript. Although assistance from technicians may occasionally be provided, it is expected that the fellow performs all techniques used. The mentor meets with the fellow on a weekly basis and evaluates the fellow’s research and/or clinical skills quarterly. The fellow is encouraged to develop an overall research agenda early in the first year.
In addition to a research mentor, each fellow is assigned a non-research mentor by the Program director. The charge of this mentor is to nurture and facilitate the fellow’s success and meet with him/her at least twice yearly. This mentor also provides advice concerning the trainee’s research or career development, recommends solutions to problems that hinder progress, and offers assistance in finding an academic position upon completion of training. The Program Director receives a report provided by the mentor, and takes such actions as may be appropriate to promote success.
Conferences, Seminars, Scientific Meetings, Additional Courses
At our weekly Research Seminar, faculty, visiting faculty, or fellows nearing completion of training present research results in a formal fashion and constructive criticism and exchange with the audience is encouraged. In addition, to enhance the training experience, each postdoctoral fellow is encouraged to attend conferences given by the Department of Pediatrics, including Grand Rounds and Seminars, and is given the opportunity to participate in additional courses offered through the School of Medicine and the Bloomberg School of Public Health in related basic science areas.
Attendance at one national scientific meeting per year is mandatory (e.g. American Thoracic Society or Cystic Fibrosis Foundation). In addition, each Research Fellow is expected to make two presentations of their research over the three-year training period at a national scientific meeting. In preparation for these meetings and presentations, program-wide rehearsal sessions are held, in which the fellow presents his/her talk or poster for constructive criticism. At the meeting itself, fellows present and defend their work, become acquainted with other workers and ideas in their field of interest, and increase their general knowledge base.