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Research Training & Mentorship

A primary goal of our fellowship program is to train the future leaders of academic pulmonary and critical care medicine. Rigorous training and in-depth experience in research are the central features of the program for all accepted applicants.

We recognize that many fellows enter our program with limited research experience. We have established a system to assist each fellow in finding the overall career track, subject area, and research mentor best suited for them.

Early in the first year each fellow will meet with Division Chief and the Fellowship Program Director to review the available research areas and resources, arrange meetings with potential mentors, and work together to help the fellow make an informed choice. This faculty mentor will be primarily responsible for helping develop and implement an individual career development plan. Mentors must be able to provide adequate resources, including time, space, supplies, expertise and effort.

Our program seeks to prepare trainees for an academic career in any of three possible professional roles: clinician-researcher, full-time academic clinician-educator, or outstanding clinician-clinician.  Success in each of these career pathways requires rigorous training, along with experience in scientific writing and presentation, and submitting manuscripts for publication. All fellows will present their projects regularly at Research Work-in-Progress sessions during the second year and third year, and present formal findings at the Pulmonary Biology Research Seminar at least once.

Fellows interested in clinical research have the option of pursuing formal course work toward a Masters in Clinical Research. Fellows planning careers as clinician-educators can also receive training in curriculum design, effective teaching methods, and scholarly writing. Our goal is to provide a personalized research training program that aligns with the fellows goals.

The Clinical Educator Track is designed for fellows who wish to pursue a career in academics with a focus on teaching and clinical care and for those who plan to enter private practice. Fellows on this track will complete 24 months of clinical time and have 12 months protected for research. The additional clinical rotations should support the fellow's clinical interests and career plans. These electives should be planned early in the fellowship and in close collaboration with the Mentoring Committee and Fellowship Program Director.  Fellows on the Clinical Educator Track are required to complete a research project and at a minimum will be expected to present their work in the form of an abstract at a national meeting and submit a peer-reviewed manuscript. 

The Physician Scientist Track is designed for individuals who have an interest in pursuing a career in clinical, translational or basic research in an academic setting. It is anticipated that the trainee will complete 18 months of clinical time and have 18 months to devote to research. During their dedicated research time some fellows will pursue a masters level degree to support their career plans.  Fellows may pursue basic, translational or clinical research projects but each must be under the direction of an established mentor and approved by the Fellowship Program Leadership. It is expected that, at a minimum, the fellow will have a first author manuscript submitted for publication by the end of the three year training program and be prepared to apply for initial grant funding.

Choosing a mentor

Choosing the right mentor is a critical step for a successful research experience. By the end of the clinical year of fellowship, all fellows should have identified one primary research mentor, obtained approval from leadership and verified expectations associated with that decision with the identified mentor. This faculty member will be primarily responsible for helping develop and implement an individual career development plan. Mentors must be able to provide adequate resources, including time, space, supplies, expertise and effort.   

Expectations of the Primary Mentor

  • Help fellows determine their short- and long-term goals and set a timetable for accomplishing these goals, including abstract, manuscript and grant submissions.

  • Assist in the identification of interesting and feasible research questions; identify other resources and potential collaborators that may be useful to the fellow's projects.

  • Help the fellow choose a mechanism for obtaining research training and offer advice in course work choices and navigation within the College of Medicine

  • Establish a plan to learn basic principles of scientific conduct, communication of findings to colleagues, and receipt of constructive feedback.

  • Establish a plan for trainee's career development in professionalism and mentorship and leadership skills.

  • Provide lab or office space, computer, additional travel funds, access to technician, research coordinator, statistical or database support if applicable.

  • Meet with the mentee on a regular basis. Every other week is recommended; not to be less than once a month.

  • Ensure Mentoring Committee meetings take place once every six months.

  • Review mentee's CV with Mentoring Committee.

  • Ensure the trainee receives feedback when presenting to lab meetings, works-in-progress sessions, research conferences, etc.

  • Help the fellow understand the requirements for transition to a faculty position at MUSC or elsewhere if appropriate

Mentoring Committee

At the beginning of the second year, fellows will form a Mentoring Committee. Under the direction of the primary mentor, the Mentoring Committee oversees the trainee's professional development, provides career counseling, and facilitates academic job placement in the latter years of training.

The committee will be composed of three to five members. Once trainees select their primary mentor and possible secondary mentor, the mentor(s) and trainee, identify additional members of their committee. All mentoring committees will include Dr. Schnapp and Dr. Pastis. A member of the committee may be outside the Division, particularly if the scholarly project involves collaboration with outside faculty.

Fellows are required to meet with their committee once every six months. Fellows should arrange their first committee meeting within the first 2 months of beginning research. Assistance with scheduling committee meetings will be provided by the Fellowship Coordinator.

Expectations of the Research Mentoring Committee:

  1. Meet once every six months. Review and update the Individual Career Development Plan at each Mentoring Committee meeting. 

  2. The mentor provides a written summary of each meeting, including action items, and  circulates these minutes to all committee members and trainee for comment and approval. Provide final copy to the fellowship coordinator for retention and program director review.

  3. Help fellows determine their short- and long-term goals and set a timetable for accomplishing these goals, including abstract, manuscript and grant submissions.

  4. Help identify interesting and feasible research questions; identify other resources  and potential collaborators that may be useful to the fellow's projects.

  5. Review mentee's CV to refine it for presentation.

  6. Facilitate the fellow's career advancement.

  7. Review the requirements for transition to a faculty position, if desired, and assist with the process of searching for a position.

Faculty and Fellow Development