This new training program in Respiratory Biology started five years ago and the T32 supporting it is currently under review. The foundations for the program were two independent T32s from the Division of Lung Diseases to the UC San Diego Divisions of Pulmonary Physiology (under John West and Peter Wagner) and Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine (under Kenneth Moser, and later Peter Wagner). Our new training grant represents a collaboration between these divisions in the UCSD Department of Medicine and other Departments for integrative training in respiratory biology with a focus on potential translation of results from bench to bedside. We continue a collaborative organization with Drs. Frank Powell and Atul Malhotra, current Chiefs of the Divisions of Physiology and PCCM, respectively, as Co-directors.
The program has evolved considerably in response to experiences gained in the first cycle, however, especially in mentoring and multidisciplinary research, and with the recruitment of new faculty to UCSD, including Dr. Malhotra. We have expanded the research opportunities to prepare trainees better for participating effectively in team science and continually renewing their approaches to novel research questions that will arise during their career. Dr. Malhotra has several research foci, including sleep science and thus we have expanded considerably the available research opportunities within our program. Research opportunities also increased by involving more faculty by formalizing participation and levels of mentorship based on increasing experience and changes in research funding, which are more common in the current economy.
This increased breadth is possible with individualized development plans for the trainees that utilize unique combinations of research and training capabilities across multiple units to match a trainee’s interests. We maintain our dedication to a training program that includes every phase of academic career development, from predoctoral trainees to senior faculty members, with all levels of faculty participating in formal mentorship training now.
We also maintain our commitment to integrating basic and clinical science by training PhDs and MDs and teaching them to interact in a collaborative manner. The program promotes translation of respiratory biology and physiology into pulmonary medicine by organizing regular, formal interactions between trainees supported by the T32 with all other trainees in the Divisions of Physiology and PCCM laboratories and the PCCM clinical faculty. We are committed to the next generation not only by attracting and retaining the best and brightest into our field but by inspiring future leaders of respiratory science. We are proud of our success to date as we already have several examples of first-rate independent investigators generated through our T32 program.
Trainees select a primary mentor in one of the research themes of the program (Figure, left). Primary mentors are identified by(1) current RO1 funding, (2) success of trainees from the standpoint of extramural funding and productivity, (3) feedback from the trainees regarding the availability of the mentor, and (4) participation of the mentor in educational activities including SAMs. Primary mentors also must have had at least 3 successful trainees (either pre-doc or post-doc) and thus tend to be more senior faculty.
Trainees also select secondary mentors, including Associate preceptors who may be more junior researchers who have had fewer successful trainees to date, or who bring expertise to the program in one of the Disciplinary themes that provide breadth and depth to our training program (Figure , right).