SBTP students continue to have a significant focus on their research during Year 3. In addition, the Ph.D. comprehensive exam is taken during the third year. The comprehensive exam consists of an R01-style research proposal using the current literature as preliminary data. The proposal is prepared on official NIH forms and the body of the application includes: specific aims, background and significance, preliminary data, and research design and methods. The student's supervisory committee serves as the examining committee and additional faculty with expertise related to the research topic are added as necessary. The student’s mentor serves as chair of the examining committee to moderate and observe the examination.
During Year 3, the students begin rotations through the clinical microbiology laboratory and in Year 4, the infectious disease service. We feel this methodology is a particularly novel approach of training basic science, pre-doctoral students as it will provide the student a thorough understanding of the pathogenic processes of multiple bacterial/viral/fungal pathogens. Since many students will study other organisms in their post-doctoral fellowship, this experience will most certainly help them in their decision making process regarding future research directions. Furthermore, the students will gain an appreciation for translational and applied research through discussions of clinical impact of certain research directions and they will learn professional communication skills and vocabulary that are different and unique from that learned in a basic research laboratory.
Clinical Microbiology Laboratory Rotation
These are hands on exercises involving Clinical Microbiology Fellows, Pathology residents, and Infectious Disease students, residents, fellows and faculty. In these 30 minute sessions, the Clinical Microbiology Fellow presents a case and discusses the clinical ramifications, biology of the organism, how it was identified, how it is treated, etc. The infectious disease team then discusses patient status with the rest of the group. In some cases, particularly interesting or timely topics such as antibiotic resistance mechanisms and HIV serology, are discussed in general. The UNMC Department of Pathology and Microbiology is one of only 12 programs nationally that is accredited by the American College of Microbiology Committee on Postgraduate Educational Programs (CPEP) as a training site for post-doctoral fellows in clinical microbiology. This program is directed by Steven Hinrichs, M.D., and Peter Iwen, Ph.D. Students in the SBTP will attend these sessions two months a year in Years 3, 4, and 5. Since clinical microbiology rounds are held twice a week, each SBTP pre-doctoral student will attend 16 sessions a year for a total of 48 after Year 5. It should be noted that any SBTP student can attend Clinical Microbiology rounds as often as they would like.