Research Training

T32 Training Grant: Kidney Disease & Inflammation

Venn Diagram T32 Training GrantThe Division of Nephrology Training Program in Kidney Disease & Inflammation offers broad research opportunities to address individual interests. Candidates may pursue training along several pathways to achieve the goal of becoming an independent investigator. Depending upon individual trainee advancement, two to three years of postdoctoral training will be required.

The three Training Pathways are:

  1. Basic-Translational Research
  2. Clinical Investigation (patient-oriented research)
  3. Basic-Translational Research or Clinical Investigation, with pursuit of an advanced degree

Diagram of T32 Training in Nephrology

M.D. trainees may additionally pursue an advanced degree by applying to one of several graduate programs with which their mentors are associated:

  1. Master of Science in Clinical Research in the Department of Public Health Sciences
  2. Master of Public Health (MPH) in the Department of Public Health Sciences
  3. MTPCI (Multidisciplinary Training Program in Clinical Investigation) supported by the School of Medicine

Each program has its own degree requirements.
Learn more about Educational Activities.

Research Proposal

Each trainee is assigned a primary NIH-funded preceptor from the program faculty to assist in identifying a research project, preparing a research proposal, identifying a secondary mentor as necessary, and selecting electives and didactic course work. The final written proposal is submitted to the Executive Committee for critical review. The critique is used to modify the proposal. In year two, the trainee provides a written progress report to the Executive Committee that includes the original aims, results, and any modification to the proposal.

The preceptor closely guides the trainee during his/her intensive laboratory experience. The level of involvement by the preceptor will change during the course of the training period to allow the trainee to transition to an independent investigator.

Trainee Expectations

First-Year Trainees are expected to:

  • exhaustively review the research literature to develop a strong background and rationale for the proposed study
  • design and perform experiments, troubleshoot experimental problems, and establish needed methodologies with advice from the preceptor
  • produce initial data analysis of each experiment with application of appropriate statistics

Second to Third Year Trainees will:

  • draft and revise manuscripts for journal submission
  • assume increased scientific responsibility for the direction of the project

Research Process

Independent thinking is fostered. As the training process grows, trainers and trainees discuss potential projects, which could serve as the basis for the initiation of the trainee’s independent scientific career.

Grant writing techniques are reviewed and trainees in their second or third years are encouraged to submit small grants to local foundations (e.g., National Kidney Foundation of the Virginias) for practical grant writing experience. All grants are reviewed and critiqued by training faculty with appropriate expertise.

The ultimate goal of the entire process is to prepare the trainee for the successful pursuit of an academic career that combines kidney-related research and teaching in a clinical or basic science department.

By the end of the training period, the trainee will be prepared to:

  • assume responsibilities as independent faculty
  • set up his/her own research laboratory
  • train and supervise research associates and technicians
  • successfully compete for extramural funding

Research Environment

The research environment draws from the major strengths of UVa basic scientists from many departments and clinical investigators from the Clinical Divisions and Departments.

Significant NIH Funding

The University of Virginia School of Medicine ranks 33rd nationally in aggregate NIH funding with $122 M from 372 awards in 2003.

Distinguished Faculty

Many of the primary departments of our faculty preceptors are highly ranked in NIH funding. Outstanding investigators are continually recruited to and emanate from the University, including three Nobel Laureates: Dr. Barry Marshall (Medicine, 2005) for the discovery of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease, Dr. Al Gillman (Physiology, 1994) for his work on G proteins, and Dr. Ferid Murad (Medicine, 1998) for one of the most significant discoveries about the cardiovascular system of the last two decades.

Expansive Facilities

To support research operations, the School of Medicine recently completed construction of a new 150,000 SF research building (MR5) to house laboratories in biomedical engineering, cardiovascular sciences, and other key areas. The Carter-Harrison building (MR6), a new 102,000 sq ft research building, brings together experts in immunology and related diseases.

All laboratories are well equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation to conduct experiments ranging from human studies to molecular and cell biology approaches.

Research facilities are designed to encourage communication and scientific interaction. Conference rooms/libraries are adjacent to laboratories and provide space for informal interactions. University and Medical Center networks and the Internet allow investigators to connect directly to institutional libraries for literature searches and to access shared software. Most on-line journals are available through UVA licenses.

A “seamless” research environment exists, without barriers to scientific inquiry, and collaborations are maintained between the medical and academic campuses.

General Clinical Research Center

The University of Virginia has a long-standing commitment to train clinical researchers. The foundation for clinical investigation is the General Clinical Research Center (GCRC), in operation since 1968. This NIH-supported multi-disciplinary research facility, housed within the University Hospital, provides investigators with specialized resources to conduct advanced clinical research. The facility includes ten inpatient beds, skilled research nurses, a core assay laboratory, a metabolic kitchen, outpatient facilities, computing and statistical consultants and facilities, and sleep and exercise physiology laboratories.

Nephrology Clinical Research Center

The Nephrology Clinical Research Center (NCRC) is a 2,300 SF clinical research facility located adjacent to the Division of Nephrology operations. All clinical trials and research in the Division are conducted here. Current trials include NIH funded studies, phase I and II therapeutic and device trials, and investigator initiated studies. A staff of highly experienced Certified Clinical Research Coordinators (CCRC) is available.

“Introduction to Clinical Investigation”

This lecture series is taught by faculty involved in clinical investigation and by biostatisticians, ethicists, and others. Supported by the Dean of the School of Medicine and the Department Chairs, the course has also been enthusiastically received by research faculty and trainees.