Research Training

The Research Training Program trains physicians  how to independently investigate the etiology, basic mechanisms and treatment of lung diseases.

As research trainees, fellows develop investigative skills to understand clinical and basic research, and to translate emerging knowledge in lung biology and genetics into clinically relevant concepts.
 
This program builds on a long history of training in pulmonary medicine at Duke University Medical Center. The Division has highly successful investigators that provide a broad array of research opportunities for trainees. Fellows may also choose mentors outside the Division and even outside Duke University at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences or the Environmental Protection Agency.

Requirements

At least 18 months of mentored research training is a requirement of the fellowship program. During their second year of fellowship, all eligible fellows will be supported by the T32 Training Grant that provides their salary support, tuition and travel expenses to national meetings.
 
Fellows will meet with the research mentorship committee in the fall of their first year to help them identify a primary mentor, either in the pulmonary division or in an affiliated division. The fellow will then be expected to meet with this mentor on a regular basis as they transition to their research training during the second year of fellowship. In addition all fellows will be expected to submit a quarterly research abstract and meet with the research committee semi-annually to track their progress and provide assistance with moving their projects forward. Financial assistance for any coursework required to support the research project will be supplied by the division on a case by case basis.
 
Furthermore, fellows are expected to apply for individual NIH-sponsored NRSA grant support during their second year and a KO8/K23 Clinician-Scientist Award during their third year of fellowship. A fourth fellowship year will be offered to trainees who have successfully progressed during their research training and need further time for development.

Specialized Interest Areas

Below is a brief listing of areas of specialized interest, followed by focused areas of expertise among our faculty.

Cell and Molecular Biology 

Cell and molecular biology studies are a major focus in this division. An NIH program project grant and multiple R01 grants support this research effort. The goals of the various programs reflect the diverse interests of the principal investigators, but all share physical resources, common technique, and a focus on understanding the molecular basics of lung disease.

Environmental Lung Disease

The biologic and genetic determinants of environmental lung disease are another major focus of research in this division. An NIH program project and multiple RO1 grants support these studies in asthma and pulmonary fibrosis. The division has recently established an NIH-supported Environmental Health Sciences Center to develop the infrastructure (microarray, proteomics, inhalation toxicology and bioinformatics facilities) to support research in environmental lung disease. Ongoing studies focus on innate immunity, environmental asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, and comparative genomic responses to common inhalational toxins.

Clinical Studies

Investigators at Duke are conducting important active human clinical studies. All fellows contribute to parts of this clinical research during their clinical year of training. By participating in human study protocols, fellows learn to appreciate the different problems and unusual complexities involved in human studies. While rotating on the appropriate clinical services, most fellows participate in patient recruitment as well as in clinical study protocols.

Center for Hypo- and Hyperbaric Medicine

The hypobaric and hyperbaric facilities at Duke University constitute a national center that supports interdisciplinary clinical and research programs through the Departments of Medicine, Surgery, and Anesthesiology. An NIH Program grant supports core research facilities, provides a stable environment for maintenance of these complex facilities for regulation of high- and low-pressure environments, and supports basic research. The Pulmonary Division offers research training in this area primarily through the Oxygen Transport Laboratory under the direction of Dr. Claude Piantadosi.

Medical Genetics Training

Duke University has recently made strong initiatives to be at the forefront of genome technologies and medical genetics. Fellowscan work within the division as well as other modern facilities such as the Institute of Genome Sciences and PolicyCenter for Human Genetics, and the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology. Some of our fellows are taking adjunct coursework leading to a Masters degree in medical genomics through the Medical Genomics Training Program.

Guidance, Evaluation and Review of Research Training

Several levels of oversight to ensure the successful research experience for all trainees.

Individual Meetings

The Pulmonary and Critical Care division chief meets with each fellow individually at least three times a year. During these meetings, the chief and fellow view progress, discuss plans, consider alternative approaches, and help to identify and rectify potential problems.
 
For first-year pulmonary fellows, the discussion focuses on how to choose a research project/mentor, identifying research interests and faculty members that could serve as mentors, reviewing the research opportunities, and helping to finish a research/mentorship plan and grant/career development opportunities.

Formal Coursework

All research trainees supported by the institutional T32 award can participate in appropriate formal courses relevant to their research goals; these trainees should annually present their work at national meetings as well as give a work-in-progress seminar before the division faculty. Progress in each of these areas is systematically considered as part of the internal review process.
 
Twice a year, the preceptors fill out a confidential research performance form. This form helps to identify problems, weaknesses or opportunities early in each trainee's career. Critiques are constructive and provide additional support in areas of deficiency.