In addition to participating in a Pediatrics Department-wide Core Curriculum in scholarly activities, all Fellows are expected to engage in projects in which they develop hypotheses or projects of substantive scholarly exploration and analysis that require critical thinking. Areas in which scholarly activity may be pursued include, but are not limited to: basic, clinical or translational biomedicine; health services; quality improvement; bioethics; education; and public policy.
Biomedical research is the most straightforward activity that meets the definition of scholarly activity provided by the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) as required to become “board eligible” in pediatric nephrology. Reflecting the ABP’s stance on alternative approaches, other activities will be scrutinized carefully for acceptability. Specific examples of potentially acceptable activities include a critical meta-analysis of the literature, a systematic and rigorous review of clinical practice, a critical analysis of public policy; or a curriculum development project with an assessment component.
All scholarly activities must result in the generation of a specific “work product”, which may include:
- A peer-reviewed publication in which the fellow played a substantial role
- An in-depth manuscript describing a completed project
- A thesis or dissertation written in connection with pursuit of an advanced degree
- An extramural grant application that has either been accepted or favorably reviewed
- A progress report for projects of exceptional complexity, such as a multi-year clinical trial
Although the specific research projects available to Fellows may change from year to year, the training program for the Fellows remains well structured. Each trainee is supervised by a full time member of the faculty who has expertise in a particular area of research. Scholarly activities are further coordinated and reviewed yearly by a Scholarship Oversight Committee (SOC) comprised of at least three faculty, at least one of whom is based outside of nephrology, to ensure that each fellow is making appropriate progress towards completion of his/her research project in a timely fashion.
Fellows participate in research in every year of subspecialty training. Attendance at weekly laboratory meetings and numerous research seminars many of which are shared with the Division of Renal Medicine in the Department of Medicine, exposes the trainee to the breadth of laboratory and clinical research opportunities at the medical center and familiarizes them with some of the state-of-the art techniques available to accomplish their research objectives.
In year 1, the trainee spends up to 3 blocks in at least two laboratories or with two potential advisors to facilitate the identification of a research project in their area of interest and a mentor. Past mentors have been selected from the our own Division as well as the Departments of Medicine (Nephrology, Cardiovascular Institute), Genetics, Transplantation Surgery, and the Department of Physiology and Biophysics. The final selection of a mentor is made with the help of the Program Director and with a view towards the needs and abilities of the trainee, as well as the mentor’s individual characteristics, in an effort to forge good matches. Each trainee is required to deliver a formal presentation of his/her proposed project in late spring of year 1.
In years 2 and 3, the research training program is organized around a preceptor system with informal daily interactions supplemented by formal course work. Ongoing basic science projects within the division are funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Polycystic Kidney Research Foundation, and American Heart Association. Methodologies available for investigating these bench research topics are state-of-the-art and include isolated perfused tubules, fluorescent digital ratio imaging, patch clamp analysis of single channel activity, radioisotope tracer technology, DNA and RNA analysis, Southern and Northern blotting, real time polymerase chain reaction techniques, oocyte expression, and yeast two-hybrid techniques.
The Division is active in several clinical cooperative studies, including the New York/New Jersey Collaborative Studies Group via KUFA, NIH-supported multicenter studies (CKiD), and the NY-Connecticut consortium of CTSAs. Participation of the Fellows in these projects provides an opportunity to learn about clinical study design and execution, and renal pathology.