Cardiology and Pulmonary Training Program

Overview

Those interested in a cardiology and pulmonary research training fellowship must have demonstrated prior interest in cardiovascular or pulmonary research and be committed to an academic career in the epidemiology of cardiovascular or pulmonary diseases. Only clinicians are eligible for these fellowships. Fellowship recipients enroll in the two- to three-year Master of Science in Clinical Epidemiology (MSCE) degree program and take classes and work alongside MSCE trainees with interests in the application of epidemiologic methods to other health-related issues and questions. Trainees receive an MSCE degree upon completion of the training program.

Upon admission, fellowship recipients are assigned a methodologic preceptor (primary mentor). The primary mentor is a member of the CCEB faculty, and is chosen by the Program Directors to provide the best fit for the trainee's interests and prior training. During the initial few weeks, the trainees and faculty become better acquainted, and changes in methodologic mentors can be made, if appropriate.

Early in the first year of training, each trainee is assigned a biostatistics preceptor to assist in the statistical aspects of the design of the protocol. Together, they select a content preceptor with whom the trainee will work during the trainee's course of study. The content preceptor provides advice regarding the development of the research question and conduct of the project. Together, the methodologic preceptor, biostatistics preceptor, and content preceptor serve as the trainee's mentoring team.

The methodologic preceptor and trainee meet weekly to develop the trainee's program of study, discuss the research protocol, clarify questions arising in courses, and identify sources of information in and outside the University. The trainee meets with the other preceptors less often, but as needed.

The training program consists of: 1) the development/completion of a clinical research project in cardiology or pulmonary research, under close supervision of a methodologic preceptor and other members of a mentoring team including at least one content expert and one biostatistician; core courses in epidemiology, clinical research methodology, and biostatistics; a core course in cardiopulmonary epidemiology; elective courses in advanced methods for epidemiology and biostatistics; a series of seminars and workshops focusing on applications of research methods to research questions in cardiology and pulmonary research; a series of seminars and workshops focusing on the trainees' professional development; and instruction in the responsible conduct of research and regulatory affairs.

The courses and activities are designed to provide direction for the focus of the training program, which is the completion of a closely mentored research project. Each trainee conducts an independent research project while working closely with his/her mentoring team. Trainees are expected to develop, implement, and analyze a research project and summarize the results in a publishable manuscript. The research project provides hands-on experience in formulating one or more research questions; searching the medical literature; translating research questions into an appropriate research design; assessing study feasibility; writing a detailed study protocol; designing data collection instruments; conducting field work; performing data analysis; and preparing a manuscript for publication. Thus, trainees experience in all facets of clinical research.

Each trainee's project must consist of clinical research into an important question in cardiovascular or pulmonary disease and be of publishable caliber. The project must be able to stand on its own, with a sufficient sample size to answer a research question. Trainees are encouraged to design studies that address important questions that need to be answered before undertaking major studies such as those suitable for grant funding. Cohort or case-control studies based on chart abstraction or use of an existing computerized patient database are acceptable, as are clinical decision analyses and meta-analyses, often in combination. Also acceptable are methodological studies such as studies of inter-observer reliability or validating information from databases against primary sources. Trainees also are required to participate in a primary data collection activity to provide a meaningful experience in this critical area.

Clinical responsibilities for trainees are minimal, as this is primarily a research fellowship. Clinical activities entail no more than a day per week of outpatient clinic, or equivalent. This should be the minimum amount necessary for trainees to maintain clinical skills, and should be directly relevant to their training in research.



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