Both clinical research and basic science research tracks are available to the fellow. The fellow is expected to participate in a research project, of either a clinical or basic science nature, during the last two years of the fellowship program.
The program ensures a meaningful, supervised research experience based on early establishment of a mentor appropriate for the fellow's interests. The fellow is guided into appropriate training in order to successfully complete a research project over the course of the three-year program. Opportunities for attending University of Pennsylvania (Penn)-based courses in statistics and immunology are reviewed. The fellow may choose a clinically-based research project for which several mentors are available through the Divisions of Rheumatology at Penn or Children's Hospital, or the fellow may choose a basic research laboratory-based project. The fellow has the opportunity to work within the laboratories of Drs. Finkel, Behrens, Sullivan or Orange, or within the laboratories of other appropriate researchers at Children's Hospital, Penn or the Wistar Institute.
Areas of laboratory research interest include immune cell (T-, B-, NK-cell) signal transduction and cytoskeletal dynamics, dendritic cells and immune tolerance, infectious causes of autoimmune disease, Toll-like receptor signaling, and animal models of Macrophage Activation Syndrome.
The fellow is required to submit a research proposal to the chosen mentor and fellowship director prior to the end of the first year of training. This proposal is reviewed by the fellowship director and division faculty. The fellow and mentor are required to meet every three months during the first year and at least monthly thereafter to review progress in the research project, as well as any problems that may have arisen. The fellowship director meets with the fellow every three months during the second and third years of training to review progress and plans.
The fellow is encouraged, though not required, to write a fellowship grant by the end of the second year of training. The primary goal of this exercise is to mentor the fellow through the difficult, but necessary and instructive task of writing grants.