The UNC ID Fellowship Program is designed to train postdoctoral fellows such that they can succeed as independent investigators at academic medical centers. Although the current requirements for Board Certification entail one year of clinical training and one year of research training, it has been our experience that this is not sufficient research experience for a successful career.
At UNC, fellows choose a career track best suited to their long-range goals and work directly with one or more faculty mentors. Our list of mentors is not limited to ID clinical faculty. In addition, courses in grant writing and career development given by the UNC School of Medicine are available for trainees.
Possible tracks include:
- Pathogenesis of infectious diseases: Trainees choose a research mentor within the ID division or its extended faculty and work under his/her direction to receive training in basic scientific research. The available labs focus on a diverse number of agents including bacteria, viruses, parasites and immunology. Recent trainees have worked in the laboratories of Steve Meshnick (malaria), David Margolis and Ron Swanstrom (HIV), Jenny Ting (innate immunology, Mark Heise (SARS vaccine), and Ralph Baric (Dengue).
- Epidemiology and public health: Many fellows wish to pursue a career in public health. UNC has the highest-rated publicly funded school of public health in the United States and offers an MPH in several disciplines, including epidemiology. The MPH degree may be obtained with one or two years of course work and a thesis, but it must not interfere with the continuity clinic. This curriculum provides rigorous training for clinical research. The Gillings School of Global Public Health has an infectious diseases program in the epidemiology department (Director, Steven Meshnick) with joint faculty in the ID division. Fellows who choose this path can also receive training in hospital epidemiology and may choose to become board eligible in preventive medicine. Recent fellows have worked with Annelies Van Rie on tuberculosis, Audrey Pettifor on behavioral interventions in South Africa, Carol Golin on HIV secondary prevention and adherence, and Ada Adimora on sexual network patterns and HIV transmission.
- Master's degree in Clinical Science: A new degree program from the department of epidemiology will offer training geared to health professionals committed to clinical research and clinical trials (Director, William Miller).
- Clinical research: UNC faculty and trainees are involved in both domestic and international clinical research. Trainees can participate in the Translational and Clinical Research Curriculum, offered by the NC TraCS, which teaches core competencies that are critical to the success of an academic clinical-translational researcher. With course in epidemiology, biostatistics, proposal writing and professional development, the TCRC is a non-degree program that is designed to be completed over two years. Recent fellows have worked with Becky White, Joseph Eron, and David Wohl on HIV clinical drug trials, acute HIV infection, and studies on the role of prisoners in transmission.
- International STD/HIV research: Selected trainees may chose to undertake research work in Malawi, Zambia, or our research sites in other countries after they complete their required clinical work in Chapel Hill. Recent fellows have worked with Myron Cohen and Irving Hoffman on HIV and STDs and with Charles van der Horst on prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV through breastmilk.
- Tropical diseases research: Interest in research into tropical infections (primarily parasitic and viral) has been growing at UNC. Current research spans from basic biology to translational work to epidemiology of disease to clinical trials. Our work focuses mostly on malaria, trypanosomiasis, Dengue and Chikungunya virus. UNC Project-Malawi is currently runs one of the Phase III trial sites for the GSK RTS,S malaria vaccine and will be conducting additional clinical trials associated with the vaccine. Recent fellows have worked with Steven Meshnick (malaria, trypanosomiasis, tick-bourne illness), Jonathan Juliano (malaria), Ralph Baric (Dengue) and Arivinda DeSilva (Dengue and Chikungunya).
- Emerging infections and biodefense research: Fred Sparling is director of the Southeast Center of Excellence for Emerging Infections and Biodefense. This program has a career development program for clinical investigators interested in emerging ID or international ID defined as influenze, dengue, SARS, or possible Biodefense and Emerging Infectious agents, categories A-C. This program is aimed at support for senior post-doctoral fellows (at least three years' experience) or junior faculty who are in the process of transitioning to faculty status.
- Clinical microbiology: The microbiology laboratory at UNC Hospitals is accredited to provide formal training to potential laboratory directors through a structured two-year program.