Postdoctoral Training Program

Immunology Training Program supported postdoctoral trainees may be either PhD or Physician-Scientists. PhD postdoctoral fellows are recruited through direct inquiries to individual faculty mentors, and selected based on the excellence of their previous work and commitment to an independent career in biomedical research and education. Physician-Scientist trainees are chosen from MD or MD-PhD residents or fellows in UVA clinical departments who demonstrate a strong commitment to an independent career in academic medicine and translational research.

The aim for postdoctoral fellows is to complete training for careers as independent scientists. Postdoctoral training is based on the idea that trainee requires two things: intellectual freedom and financial support to pursue an exciting research program. PhD and Physician-Scientist trainees and their mentors formally commit to 80-100% effort on laboratory research. Vigorous training in bench research is particularly emphasized for Physician-Scientists, recognizing they generally will have less overall exposure during their early careers. Clinical responsibilities during their tenure in the Program are minimized to ensure at least 2 years of full-time laboratory research experience. While postdoctoral training emphasizes close interaction with the mentor, trainees are treated as junior colleagues, and interaction with other faculty members is highly encouraged. Postdoctoral fellows are encouraged to participate in all Immunology Training Program activities, including coursework, either as teachers or to gain additional knowledge and understanding.

Because the Program emphasizes research productivity and attainment of independent investigator status, required coursework is limited. Instead, postdoctoral trainees develop skills necessary to effectively succeed in a research intensive career: writing and reviewing grant and manuscripts, budget preparation and management, and personnel supervision. They are encouraged and routinely take responsibility for supervision of undergraduate students from the College of Arts and Sciences and the SRIP program, and of rotating graduate students. Finally, postdocs may also take the opportunity to teach topics of interest in the one of the advanced Immunology courses.