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PhD in Clinical and Translational Science

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Leaders IN Clinical and Translational Science (LINCS)

Overview

The Leaders IN Clinical and Translational Science (LINCS) Program for Residents is an innovative program that combines a doctoral degree in clinical and translational science with a medicine residency and subspecialty fellowship training. The program is designed to prepare outstanding medical residents for a career in academic medicine and clinical and translational research.

Residents who have research experience and want a rigorous, advanced training program that enhances their capabilities of conducting independent, high-quality clinical and translational research can pursue the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Research Pathway Residency (short track) in combination with a PhD conferred by the School of Medicine.

In the LINCS Program, a 2-year period of medical residency training is followed by 3 or more years of mentored research, coursework, and dissertation research. This work is then followed by 1–2 or more years in a subspecialty fellowship. Individuals who are interested in the PhD must apply to the ABIM Research Pathway of the Internal Medicine Residency Program, apply simultaneously for the PhD Program in Clinical and Translational Science, and declare their interest in a particular medical subspecialty for the fellowship.

Curriculum in Clinical and Translational Research

After their second postgraduate year (PGY2), residents will begin their didactic coursework while simultaneously engaging in practical research experiences. Coursework consists of four types of courses: required core courses, advanced methodology "selectives," concentration/research-based electives, and dissertation research.

The core curriculum provides a foundation of knowledge and skills that every clinical and translational investigator should possess, regardless of the specific field in which he or she conducts patient-oriented research. The basics include clinical research methods, biostatistics, measurement of outcomes, and ethical and regulatory principles regarding human research. The core curriculum is a tightly integrated series of courses with coordination of topics, problems, and skills acquisition across the various content areas. The curriculum begins with an intensive summer program after PGY2 that immerses the trainee in didactic and experiential components of all of the major areas of the core.

Methodology selectives are courses chosen by a student and his or her mentor and approved by the PhD program advisors. These selected courses focus on the advanced methodologic or analytic topics that will be most useful to the student's chosen area of research. The courses will typically be completed in year 2. At least 6 credits must be in advanced analytic methods (e.g., statistics or epidemiology), and at least 4 credits must be in research methods (e.g., clinical trial design, imaging methodology, or pharmacogenomics).

The figure below describes the sequencing of the proposed core coursework and customized selective coursework as well as the milestones for completion of the degree.

Mentorship

An important element of the LINCS Program is learning to be an independent investigator. This process is centered around an emphasis on integrated, multidisciplinary mentoring teams to guide the growth and development of residents. Residents may work with faculty members who conduct federally funded clinical or translational research in any of the schools of the health sciences. Typically, a resident will seek a primary mentor from within his or her own discipline and will seek secondary mentors from other disciplines related to the research area of interest. The program monitors the mentoring relationships to ensure that residents are being prepared for independent research. This involves active participation in and exposure to all phases of research, including conception and design of studies, grant writing, recruitment of study subjects, data collection and analysis, and dissemination of results.

Coursework and Milestones

curriculum table

Admission Requirements

Prospective applicants who have received an invitation to interview for a residency position at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) should apply to the LINCS Program before their scheduled interview. Admission into the LINCS Program requires a match for a residency program at UPMC and requires an acceptance into the PhD Program in Clinical and Translational Science.

Support

Residents in the LINCS Program are eligible for stipends and tuition provided through training grants in subspecialty divisions, through the University of Pittsburgh's Clinical and Translational Science Institute or through individual National Research Service Awards.

Because the recruitment and training of clinician-researchers is such a high priority at the current time, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has implemented a loan repayment program for doctors who commit to a career in clinical research. Individuals in the LINCS Program may consider applying for the loan repayment program when their residency is completed.