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Intensive research training is offered in three programmatic areas, the Basic and Experimental Track, the Translational and Clinical Track and the Healthcare Transformation Track.
The program pays great attention to mentorship on the personal and academic level. The program director meets with the fellows every six months to ensure that the fellows remain on track in all aspects of training. A long list of faculty within and outside the division is also available for fellows to choose mentors. To better coordinate the fellows’ mentorship in research, the fellowship has an Education Council, headed by Nives Zimmermann, MD, and is attended by Amal Assa’ad, MD, Marc Rothenberg, MD, PhD, Simon Hogan, PhD, David Bernstein, MD, and Kimberly Risma, MD, PhD, as faculty members, as well as a fellow representative (usually a third-year fellow). The council formalizes the research plans for the fellowship and the Scientific Oversight Committee for each fellow.
Allergy / immunology fellows interested in basic and experimental biology may conduct research in a broad range of immunological disorders related to: 1) allergic diseases (e.g., asthma, food allergy, eczema, eosinophilic disorders, anaphylaxis); 2) autoimmune diseases (e.g. inflammatory bowel disease); and 3) primary immunodeficiency and dysregulation. The faculty members from Cincinnati Children’s and the University of Cincinnati participate in a large consortium referred to as the Center for Immunology Research, which includes numerous NIH-funded investigators, clinical and postdoctoral fellows and graduate students enrolled in the Immunobiology Graduate Training Program.
The fellows in the basic and experimental track join a research lab where they spend the majority of their effort during research years. The fellows develop competency in performing research techniques that are pertinent to their particular research project. For example, the trainees in the laboratory may learn the following techniques: DNA cloning, sequencing, DNA chips; animal breeding, husbandry and genotyping; transgenic engineering; tissue culture; microscopy including morphometric analysis; histologic identification of lymphocytes, mast cells, eosinophils, etc.; immunohistochemistry, mRNA in situ hybridization; cytokine assays − ELISA, polymerase chain reactions; southern, northern, and western blotting; electrophoresis and data analysis: graphs, statistics and interpretation.
In addition to technical competence, the fellows develop important skills in bringing a research project to fruition, including grant writing, manuscript preparation and oral presentations of research findings. The fellows attend the laboratory meetings of the laboratory with which they are affiliated, as well as the divisional and interdivisional laboratory meetings. The faculty mentor coaches the fellow in the presentation of research data.
Allergy / immunology fellows interested in translational and clinical biology have several research and training opportunities.
Trainees have the opportunity to participate in clinical trials of new therapeutic agents under development for approval by the FDA. The faculty in the Allergy and Immunology Division in the Department of Internal Medicine have established a clinical research center where multicenter clinical trials and investigator-initiated studies are performed, including numerous trials of new agents for treating acute attacks of hereditary angioedema. Trainees work as sub-investigators under direct supervision of clinical and translational faculty and are introduced to the nuts and bolts of conducting clinical studies, good clinical practice (GCP) guidelines and ethical principles guiding conduct of human research. On the pediatric side, there are over ten investigator-initiated clinical protocols ongoing and fellows can get involved at various levels, including the design of new protocols.
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