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Research Training

The program provides training in basic and clinical sciences important to the respiratory system and depends on the interdisciplinary staff of the Cardiovascular Research Institute, together with special basic and clinical research skills of other members of the UCSF campus.

The UCSF Pulmonary Research Training Program has been in existence since 1958 and has been funded in part by a National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Multidisciplinary Research Training Program Grant (HL-07185) for more than three decades. The grant accommodates a total of thirteen postdoctoral trainees, including both MDs and PhDs and is under the direction of Jay Nadel, M.D. The Research Training Program includes a total of approximately 60 trainees; in addition to the NIH Training Grant, fellowship funds are derived from multiple government and private sources. The NIH Research Training Grant undergoes national peer review every five years, and was successfully renewed in 2007.

The program provides research training in bench and clinical sciences important to the respiratory system. The main focus is an actual experience in the "laboratory" (broadly defined) under faculty supervision, and employing approaches applicable at the molecular, cellular, tissue, organ, whole animal, or clinical level. Special educational opportunities have been created to prepare individuals for careers in academic medicine. The education program provides special courses, small group conferences, seminars (including ethics), and personal instruction specifically designed for trainees, as well as bench science courses (including cell biology, biochemistry, and molecular biology), and clinical research courses (epidemiology and biostatistics). The program is designed to provide a broad knowledge of modern scientific investigation, and to increase the writing and teaching skills of trainees who will spend a lifetime as members of a medical school faculty. Each fellow meets with Dr. Nadel early in the first year, to discuss his/her research interests and to help identify potential research mentors. Subsequently, with the help of a Career Development Committee (comprised of faculty chosen by each fellow), Dr. Nadel carefully monitors the progress and satisfaction of the trainees and guarantees that at least 80 percent of the trainee’s time is devoted to research.

A UCSF Pulmonary Research Retreat is held annually in the Fall. The goal of the retreat is to provide fellows a broad overview of the many opportunities in research at UCSF.

Training in Bench Investigation

Due to the dramatic advances in cell and molecular biology, the training program has pursued several approaches to incorporate the disciplines of "modern" biology and genetics. PhDs have been recruited at the faculty level who can train pulmonary fellows and collaborate with the physician-scientists in the program. Collaborations have been developed with basic scientists in other programs and departments throughout the UCSF community. Faculty and trainees have been encouraged to participate in new courses. The net effect of these three approaches has been to infuse the training program with state-of-the-art technology and to integrate more closely the basic and clinical sciences.

A broad range of research opportunities in molecular and cellular biology of lung diseases are available and can be accessed online via the Biosketches of the Program Faculty as well as the Biosketches of the Faculty in the UCSF Program in Biological Sciences (PIBS). Currently, these include investigations of airway inflammation; regulation of surfactant proteins; proteases; mast cell growth, phenotype, and secretion; neuropeptides and neurogenic inflammation; lung injury and repair, stress-induced proteins; ion transport in airway epithelium; cellular and molecular biology of cystic fibrosis; mucin gene regulation; regulation of airway secretion; adhesion molecules; inflammatory cells and mediators in pleural disease; transmembrane signaling in smooth muscle; and pulmonary immune responses, angiogenesis and lung carcinogenesis. In addition, active programs in transcriptional profiling and genetic analysis of asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, and emphysema in both humans and murine models have been recently established at UCSF. UCSF also enjoys a rich array of basic science programs not listed above which may be of special interest to individual Fellows. The Program Faculty will assist all Fellows in selecting a research program tailored to an individual’s interests and experience. Of note, although each Fellow’s research program should have relevance to Pulmonary Disease, it need not be tied to a member of the Pulmonary Division.

Training in Clinical Investigation (Clinical Scholars Program)

Clinical and Translational Research is a well-established and valued part of the UCSF program, and the range of research opportunities for Clinical Scholars is almost as broad as that for bench investigation. Faculty have built upon their prior existing programs to compete successfully for NHLBI funding for clinical research networks, and UCSF investigators have been awarded funding for the Asthma Clinical Research Network, the COPD Clinical Research Network, the ARDS Network, the Interstitial Lung Disease Network, and AsthmaNet. Substantial space and resources are devoted to these clinical research programs that form the infrastructure for expanded clinical research in these and other lung disease areas.

Trainees may choose a pathway in advanced clinical research and investigation as a Clinical Scholar. The Pulmonary Clinical Scholars Program is coordinated with the clinical scholar training from other fellowships in an interdisciplinary UCSF-sponsored program (Advanced Training in Clinical Research). Each trainee completes core courses in clinical research design, ethics, scientific writing, and statistical methods. The trainee also pursues a supplemental didactic curriculum tailored to her/his specific research goals with the guidance of a primary clinical investigator advisor and a faculty advisory committee. The trainee pursues specific clinical research projects in parallel with all didactic training; possible areas of study include advanced pulmonary physiology, clinical trials, natural history studies, medical ethics, meta-analysis, health services research, survey research, and other epidemiological investigations. Well-developed programs exist in Asthma, COPD, Cystic Fibrosis, ARDS/ALI, Interstitial Lung Disease, Tuberculosis, HIV, Lung Transplant, Sleep Disorders, effects of Tobacco Smoke, Medical Ethics/end of life decisions, and Health Outcomes.

Those interested in clinical research may also choose a joint training track combined with the Occupational Medicine Residency Program (see Additional Training Options above).