Pediatric Infectious Diseases Fellowship

Overview and mission

The mission of our program is to prepare individuals to excel as future leaders in the field of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. Our 3-year fellowship is designed to provide fellows with a broad array of training opportunities in clinical infectious diseases, bench research, clinical epidemiology, antimicrobial stewardship, infection prevention and control, and global health, all in a diverse, inclusive, and collegial environment.

Fellowship leaders

Fellowship training program director
Audrey R. Odom John, MD, PhD

Fellowship training associate program directors
Hamid Bassiri, MD, PhD
Email Dr. Bassiri

Eimear Kitt, MBBCh BAO
Email Dr. Kitt

Fellowship training program coordinator
Patrice Sport
Email Ms. Sport

Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases
Audrey R. Odom John, MD, PhD

Program goals and objectives

The Pediatric Infectious Diseases Fellowship Training Program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) provides pediatricians who have completed residency training with a three-year educational experience to allow them to pursue a career in pediatric infectious diseases. Specifically, this program is designed to:

  • Expand the trainee’s medical knowledge of the pathogenesis and appropriate treatment of pediatric infectious diseases
  • Augment the trainee’s clinical skills in the accurate diagnosis and management of infectious diseases; and
  • Provide training in either clinical epidemiology, laboratory-based, or translational based investigations related to pediatric infectious diseases.

Program curriculum

Year one

During the first year of fellowship, the trainee will spend the majority of his or her time in clinical arenas. The goal of the clinical experience is to provide the trainee with exposure to common and uncommon infectious diseases, in both immunocompetent and immunocompromised hosts. With the oversight of experienced attending physicians, fellows care for patients on the general infectious disease consultation service or the immunocompromised infectious disease consultation service. Additionally, fellows will see patients in our busy outpatient clinic. Specific details about clinical training are included in the clinical services section.

The inpatient and outpatient services are supported by both the Department of Infection Prevention and Control and the Antibiotic Stewardship Program. With this support and through dedicated electives, trainees will develop expertise in the following:

  • Judicious use of antibiotics
  • Appropriate use of diagnostic testing
  • Infection control and hospital epidemiology

While the first year is clinically focused, there is a parallel goal of establishing a smooth plan for the transition to research endeavors at the beginning of the second fellowship year. The first year fellow will meet with the fellowship director multiple times during the first year to discuss research options and interests. Ultimately, trainees are expected to identify a mentor in their area of research interest by the conclusion of the first year.

Years two and three

The second and third years of fellowship training are designed to provide the trainee with ample time to conduct research in a protected environment by minimizing concurrent clinical responsibilities.

Trainees with an interest in bench science are encouraged to explore suitable mentors at any location on the University of Pennsylvania campus. Trainees with an interest in clinical research have the opportunity to pursue the Clinical Epidemiology or Health Policy Master of Science Programs at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. Finally, trainees with an interest in translation research are encouraged to consider pursuit of a master’s degree at the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. Matriculation in any of the masters programs is contingent on funding opportunities.

Second-and third-year fellows will have some clinical responsibilities including the following:

  • Approximately 6 to 8 weeks a year of inpatient consult service
  • 7 to 10 days a year of outpatient clinic

These clinical experiences are paramount to refine the clinical skills and to develop increased clinical confidence and autonomy.

Clinical services

Trainees will receive ample inpatient clinical exposure on one of two inpatient infectious disease consultation services at CHOP:

  • The general infectious diseases service
  • The immunocompromised infectious diseases service (commonly called “IC” service)

Fellows rotate through both services, with any given week dedicated to only one of the services. Each service is attended by one or two faculty members. Trainees will also have the opportunity to care for children in our outpatient clinic. All inpatient and outpatient clinical responsibilities take place at CHOP’s Main Campus.

General inpatient infectious disease consult service

The general service consult team consists of two fellows and one attending physician. The fellows oversee rotating medical students and residents that contribute as integral members of the team. The patient population for this service is broad, including patients in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and the Newborn/Infant Intensive Care Unit (N/IICU), as well as the subspecialty (e.g. gastrointestinal inpatient service), surgical, general pediatrics, and adolescent units. 

The general service pager is a critical component of the clinical educational experience while on the general service. This pager receives questions from physicians throughout the CHOP network and also clinicians at other centers. The incoming questions are varied but include vaccine inquiries, post-exposure management, returning traveler issues and more. Overnight and on weekends the antimicrobial stewardship inquiries (“the approval pager”) also come through on the general service fellow pager. Fielding the outside calls and stewardship calls ensures that graduating fellows are adept at answering common pediatric ID issues and helps them establish an extensive knowledge of all available anti-infectives. 

The general service fellows split the pager coverage, and off-service fellows also cover the pager for several nights per week, leaving a number of pager-free evenings each week. On-service fellows also split weekend service, so each fellow that is on service has a weekend day off. Fellows that are not on service do not typically have any weekend clinical responsibilities.

Immunocompromised (IC) inpatient infectious disease consult service

The IC service consult team consists of one fellow and one attending. Additional members of the IC team include dedicated nurse practitioners, as well as upper year residents with a specific interest in infectious diseases or immunocompromising conditions. This service focuses on patients with any immunocompromising condition, including solid organ and bone marrow transplant recipients, all cancer patients, patients with primary immune deficiencies, and any other condition requiring immunosuppressive medications (i.e. long-term steroids, biologics).

In order to provide some balance between the two inpatient services, the IC service covers all of the inpatient cardiology and two general pediatric floors. The IC pager is less busy, so while the IC fellow covers the pager all week, evenings are less busy than with the general service pager. When a first-year fellow is on service, the attending will cover one weekend day by him or herself to provide the first-year fellow with a weekend day off in order to ensure duty-hour compliance. Upper-year fellows cover both weekend days when they are on this service because they only do one service week at a time.

Outpatient infectious disease clinic

Patients are seen on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in the Infectious Disease Outpatient Clinic located adjacent to the main hospital. Fellows see patients in clinic, under the supervision of an Infectious Disease attending physician. Patients seen in the outpatient clinic include those referred by their primary care pediatricians for infectious disease consultation, as well as patients seen for follow up from inpatient hospitalizations.

In the first year, fellows spend approximately 34 weeks on service, with about 75 percent of those weeks on the general service and the remaining on the IC service. Upper-year fellows typically have six to eight weeks of service, with a greater percentage on the IC service. The goal is to have an overall balance of two-thirds general service and one-third IC service.

Elective weeks

To complement the infectious disease clinical experience, each fellow trainee will have the opportunity to complete a variety of elective weeks.  During the first year, a number of weeks are dedicated to elective time including the following:

  • Clinical microbiology laboratory (2 weeks)
  • Infection prevention and control (2-4 weeks in the first year and 1 week in the second or third year)
  • Antimicrobial stewardship (2 weeks)
  • Research planning (3 weeks)

The elective schedule is reasonably flexible. First-year trainees are encouraged to develop their own elective schedule with oversight from fellowship leadership.

Research training and opportunities

During the first year, the fellowship director and division chief will help the fellow select a research track in clinical epidemiology, translational science, or basic science. Once a track is chosen, research mentors are considered. Appropriate mentors may be selected from any school within the CHOP Research Institute or the University of Pennsylvania.

The second and third year should provide the fellow with the opportunity to pursue a focused research project. During this time, the fellow is expected to gain experience designing and conducting hypothesis-driven research. Ideally, the chosen research project should be achievable within the fellowship training period and at the completion of the project should result in a manuscript or manuscripts suitable for publication.

In addition to completing the research project, fellows are also encouraged to apply for funding so they can develop the skills necessary to produce a competitive grant. Many fellows will submit an F32 or K-award during their third year of training.

The following links include important potential resources for clinical epidemiology, health policy, translational science, or basic science research tracks:

Conference schedules

  • Monday, noon to 1 p.m.: pediatric infectious diseases clinical conference
  • Tuesday, 8-9 a.m.: clinical microbiology and virology rounds
  • Thursday, 8-9 a.m.: fellow didactic session
  • Thursday, noon to 1 p.m.: Infectious Disease Division Journal Club
  • Friday, 8-9 a.m.: adult infectious diseases clinical conference

Current fellows

First year: Drs. Ross England, Ashley Sobel-Leonard, and Sesh Sundararaman

Second year: Drs. Allison Blatz, Katie Laycock, and Yasaman Fatemi

Third year: Drs. Angela Desmond, William Otto and Torsten Joerger

Outcomes of past of fellows

Over the past 10 years, 28 physicians have completed the fellowship training program in Pediatric Infectious Diseases. A majority of our graduates pursue careers as independent researchers. Of the 28 recent fellows, 11 have received federal funding to continue their research activities beyond the period of fellowship training.

Some past fellows have pursued positions with balanced clinical and research efforts or have leveraged their research training to pursue opportunities in the private pharmaceutical sector.

Fellowship graduates have earned positions at the following institutions:

  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
  • Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA
  • C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
  • Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO
  • Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL
  • Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
  • Seattle Children’s Hospital, Seattle, WA
  • A.I. Dupont Children’s Hospital, Wilmington, DE
  • Mercy Children's Hospital, Kansas City, MO
  • Botswana-UPENN Partnership, Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA
  • Merck & Co., North Wales, PA
  • Children’s National Health System, Washington D.C.
  • Duke Childrens, Raleigh, NC
  • Naval Medical Center, San Diego, CA
  • Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, Westchester, NY
  • Epidemic Intelligence Service, Center for Disease Control and Prevention

How to apply

Our three-year fellowship seeks physicians who will have completed three years of training in an accredited residency program in Pediatrics. Prospective fellows wishing to pursue an accelerated research track after two years of pediatric residency are also considered. The Infectious Disease Fellowship Program participates in the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS). Please visit the ERAS website for an application.

The following information should be uploaded into this program:

  • Completed on-line ERAS application
  • Personal statement
  • At least three letters of recommendation
  • Dean's letter
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Medical school transcript
  • If a graduate of a medical school outside the United States, Canada or Puerto Rico, valid ECFMG certificate or one that does not expire prior to the start of the fellowship
  • If not a citizen of the United States, copy of permanent resident card or copy of current, appropriate visa. CHOP will sponsor H1B Visas for select candidates.

The following are important dates in the application process:

  • July 1: First day that the ERAS system will accept an application for Infectious Disease Fellowship
  • July 15: First day that the fellowship program directors can view applications of prospective fellows
  • Our interview season typically opens after Labor Day and continues through the end of November

The fellowship director and division chief review all completed applications and select candidates to invite for in-person interviews. Interviews are typically one day in duration and last from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Interviewees will have an opportunity to meet with approximately 6-8 faculty members, have lunch with current fellows, and receive a tour of the Hospital and main campus.

The Pediatric Infectious Disease Fellowship Program participates in the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). Please visit the NRMP website for more information.

COVID-19 update: Virtual fellowship interviews for 2020 applicants

A note to our prospective fellowship applicants from program leadership:

Thank you for your interest in pediatric infectious diseases, an incredibly diverse and rewarding specialty. As evidenced by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, pediatric infectious diseases physicians have never been more important nor their duties more diverse. This pandemic has highlighted the wide array of career paths available to a pediatric infectious diseases’ specialist; everything from clinical care, disaster planning, infection prevention and control, antimicrobial and diagnostic stewardship, immunology, microbial pathogenesis, vaccine development, epidemiology and public health, public relations, and social determinants of health. We need you to join this exciting profession and we are committed to helping you find your particular niche within it.

The Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society (PIDS), the PIDS Training Programs Committee, and pediatric infectious diseases program directors understand that the 2020-2021 fellowship application season falls during a complex time. We also understand that some anticipated infectious diseases clinical and research elective rotations may not have been pursued, anticipated research projects may not be completed, and previously envisioned letters of recommendation may not materialize. We assure you that we will be mindful of these realities when reviewing applications.

Therefore, we strongly encourage anyone who is considering applying for pediatric infectious diseases fellowship to apply during this application cycle. In order to ensure that the recruitment process is fair, equitable, and socially responsible, all pediatric infectious diseases fellowship interviews for the 2021- 2022 academic year will only be offered virtually.

We look forward to meeting you and getting to know your interests within our rewarding and ever-changing subspecialty.

Tobacco-free hiring policy

To help preserve and improve the health of our patients, their families and our employees, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has a tobacco-free hiring policy. This policy applies to all candidates for employment (other than those with regularly scheduled hours in New Jersey) for all positions, including those covered by the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Job applicants who apply after July 1, 2014, will be expected to sign an attestation stating they’ve been free of nicotine or tobacco products in any form for the prior thirty (30) days. They will also undergo a cotinine test as a part of the Occupational Health pre-placement drug screen administered after the offer of employment has been accepted but before the first day of hire.

Exemptions: Attending physicians (excluding CHOP physicians in the Care Network), psychologists, principal investigators and/or Penn-based faculty are exempt from this process to better align with our colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.

More information

To learn more, please contact Patrice Sport, fellowship training program coordinator, at 215-590-2017 or by email.

Attn: Patrice Sport, Pediatric Infectious Disease Fellowship Coordinator
3615 Civic Center Boulevard
Abramson Research Building
Room 1202
Philadelphia, PA 19104