Curriculum and Training
Advanced, Comprehensive Instruction to Prepare You For Any Career Path
The primary goal of UNC’s Allergy and Immunology fellowship program reaches beyond simply providing advanced, innovative, and well-rounded medical training. It also embodies a philosophy about which its faculty are particularly passionate…providing the highest quality cutting-edge clinical care to our patients.
To achieve this, fellows learn clinical aspects of Allergy and Immunology while working side-by-side with faculty in a traditional ‘attending clinic.’ In addition, they learn to provide longitudinal care in their own ‘continuity clinic,’ in which they have primary oversight for a cohort of patients they follow throughout their training. Our program is unique in its longitudinal approach, which we believe provides particularly realistic and practical training due to the chronic nature of autoimmune diseases.
Because we are one of the largest referral centers in the Southeast, our fellows care for a broad range of cases from across the state and throughout our region. In addition, fellows benefit from being able to see patients in four distinct UNC facilities, which provides experience with not only a variety of different diseases, but also a broad range of patients in terms of age, race and ethnicity, and socio-economic backgrounds.
The fellowship program includes four practice settings:
- UNC Allergy and Immunology Clinic at Carolina Pointe II
- UNC Hospitals Specialty Care Clinic
- NC Children’s Specialty Clinic at Rex Hospital
- Inpatient consultations at UNC Hospitals
In addition to the core Allergy and Immunology training, fellows are encouraged to pursue additional learning opportunities through established electives in Rheumatology, Otolaryngology, Dermatology, Infectious Diseases and Pulmonology. Because of the considerable clinical overlap that Allergy and Immunology can have with other specialties, these electives broaden the fellow’s understanding of the complexities of the immune system, further preparing them to be experts in all aspects of Allergy and Immunology.
Didactic training provides the foundation upon which clinical reasoning is applied. Since its inception, the UNC Allergy and Immunology Fellowship Program has maintained its strong emphasis on formal learning through a weekly, dedicated “didactic day.”
Learning opportunities include:
- Allergy and Immunology “Boot Camp”
- Topic-Based Journal Club
- Allergy and Immunology Case Conferences
- Joint Immunology Seminar Series with Duke University
- Clinical and Basic Immunology Board Review
- Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology Grand Rounds
- Internal Medicine and Pediatric Grand Rounds
All fellows are encouraged to attend and participate in scientific conferences to supplement their learning and to showcase their work. The fellowship program provides coverage of clinical duties so all fellows are able to attend the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) meeting each spring. In addition, UNC fellows have routinely presented their work at the annual American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) meeting; the Clinical Immunology Society’s Primary Immunodeficiency Diseases (CIS PID) summer school; the Aspen Allergy conference; the Southeastern Allergy Asthma & Immunology society (SEAAI) conference; and the Regional, State and Local (RSL) meeting of the NC Society of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology.
Mentored Research Training
A “Core” 2-year (Clinical + Research) program, and for some participants an optional 3rd year of advanced training in research.
One reason the UNC Allergy and Immunology Fellowship Program is considered one of the best in the United States is its strong emphasis on research training. Experience has shown that the skills acquired during the design and implementation of a research project provides graduates with a mindset that enables them to approach medicine in a systematic, yet creative and out-of-the box manner that yields optimal outcomes. These skills translate into tangible benefits that prepare our fellows to pursue any of a variety of career paths including private clinical practice, academic clinical practice, research, and pharma/industry.
As part of their ACGME-accredited training, all UNC Allergy and Immunology fellows follow a comprehensive 2-year training program, with the second year focused on the development and implementation of an independent research project. For those fellows demonstrating the desire and skills to pursue a career as a research scientist in Allergy and Immunology, funding is available for an additional year dedicated to research.
Fellows are connected with faculty advisors from the moment they arrive at UNC. This eases the transition into their fellowships and helps to begin the discussion about potential career paths. Over the first year, fellows craft Individual Development Plans (IDPs) with their advisors to ensure they get the most out of their training, and to best position themselves for pursuing future employment in fields that are of interest to them. Typical goals for a standard 2-year fellow would include 1-2 publications, 1-2 local presentations, and 1-2 national presentations. For those pursuing a third year of training, the goals would be the further refinement of the research project to obtain pilot data and additional publication and presentation opportunities – moving the fellow towards the ultimate goal of applying for independent research funding.
Potential sources of third year research funding include:
- An Allergy/Immunology-specific T32 training grant
- Other T32 training grants within UNC (toxicology, pharmacology, etc.)
- Research grants through individual investigators
- Clinical funds
A broad range of research opportunities within allergy and immunology as well as in related specialties, including but not limited to:
- Environmental asthma through the Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology (CEMALB)
- Food allergy, through the UNC Food Allergy Initiative (UNC FAI)
- Delayed allergy to mammalian meats (alpha-gal)
- Primary immune deficiency research
- Eosinophilic esophagitis with UNC Gastroenterology
- Epidemiological and biostatistical research through collaborations with the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
To further supplement research training, audited and degree-program course work is available through the UNC Department of Pediatrics fellowship curriculum, the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute (NC TraCS), and the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.
You never really know about the quality of your training until you leave. It was after I completed my training and began seeing patients in a busy academic practice, and after I started engaging with colleagues from around the U.S., that I knew my training was truly top-notch. At UNC, options to do research are plentiful, and fellow-directed. Both the food allergy and asthma research groups are internationally recognized and led by past-presidents of the AAAAI. Add that to the 50/50 balance of adult and pediatric clinical exposure and a variety of clinical mentors, and you realize this fellowship provides solid preparation for a clinical or research career at the highest level. Perhaps most notable during fellowship was the accessibility of Junior and Senior Faculty, all of whom create a nurturing, comfortable environment designed to help you succeed.
– Aaron Kobernick, MD; 2017 Graduate of UNC Allergy/Immunology Fellowship Program.