NIH T32 Training Grant in Joint Health

Sumner, Malfait and Wimmer - NIH T32 Training Grant

The NIH T32 Training Grant in Joint Health supports post-doctoral fellowships and short-term medical student research.  The grant is directed by Rick Sumner, PhD (center) and co-directed by Markus Wimmer, PhD (left) and Anne-Marie Malfait, MD, PhD (right).

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Overview

This multi-disciplinary post-doctoral training program in musculoskeletal biology emphasizes research training in joint health, encompassing three major programmatic areas: osteoarthritis, total joint replacement and small molecule therapeutics.  Training will take place in the laboratories of NIH funded faculty in two basic science departments (Cell & Molecular Medicine and Physiology & Biophysics) and three clinical departments (Internal Medicine, Orthopedic Surgery and Pediatrics). The preceptors are internationally respected scientists and physician-scientists devoted to musculoskeletal research, with a special focus on osteoarthritis (including pain), cartilage and bone biology, total joint replacement, and muscle physiology. We encourage candidates with a medical degree to apply in addition to those with PhD’s. After completing our program, the trainees will be better able to become independent, team-oriented, principal investigators. The program also supports 3-month “short-term” slots for medical students. Trainees have many resources available including the Joint Seminar Series, which features internationally renowned scholars.

Information for prospective trainees

Eligibility

  • U.S. citizen or permanent residency status required
  • For the post-doctoral slots:  a doctoral degree (M.D., D.O., Ph.D., D.V.M., D.D.S. or equivalent)
  • For the short-term training slots:  be a current medical student.

Mentors/Research areas
Research areas of the mentors are outlined on this page below, with links to individual labs.

Training program
The objective of the proposed program is to provide education, training and research opportunities to post-doctoral fellows and short-term trainees who wish to have scientific careers in the multi-disciplinary area of musculoskeletal biology with the ultimate aim of developing future leaders in orthopedic- and rheumatology-related research. The program emphasizes research training in Joint Health, encompassing three major programmatic areas:

  1. Osteoarthritis (OA)
  2. Total Joint Replacement (TJR)
  3. Small Molecule Therapeutics (SMT)

The multidisciplinary training that is offered integrates the research endeavors of scientists in basic and clinical departments with clinician investigators, caregivers, and educators who specialize in musculoskeletal disease and joint health. The net result is a large and internationally respected group devoted to musculoskeletal research, with a special focus on OA (including pain), cartilage and bone biology, TJR, and muscle physiology. There are close inter-departmental collaborations in both clinical and basic research, which yields a truly unique environment for mentoring junior investigators in joint health.

Each fellow, with the aid of his/her primary advisor, establishes a mentoring committee. Specific functions of the mentoring committee will include (i) ensuring appropriate training, (ii) monitoring research progress, and (iii) providing feedback on the mentee’s required individual grant applications.  The mentoring committees work with the trainee, using training guidelines published by the National Post-doctoral Association and Science (DOI: 10.1126/science.opms.r1100101). The mentor-mentee relationship is a two-way street and both parties need to be proactive in recognizing and fulfilling their responsibilities. An important means to ensure communication on these topics between the trainee and mentor is the use of an individual development plan using myIDP, agreed upon by both the mentee and mentor. These plans are updated yearly by the trainee and mentor and reviewed by the mentoring committee.

To organize the training we focus on the 6 competencies for post-doctoral trainees outlined and defined by the National Post-doctoral Association (http://www.nationalpostdoc.org/?SixCoreComps#vi). These are: (i) discipline-specific conceptual knowledge; (ii) research skill development; (iii) communication skills; (iv) professionalism; (v) leadership and management skills; (vi) responsible conduct of research.  An important milestone for T32 appointees will be the submission of an individual training grant application to the NIH (F32) or another appropriate agency (such as the Arthritis Foundation or the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation) by the end of Year 1.

The Rush Post-doctoral Society (RPS), which is an affiliate of the National Post-doctoral Association, collaborates with local institutions such as the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, the University of Illinois at Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory to help create a sense of community for Chicago-area postdoctoral fellows. At Rush, resources are provided to assist new post-doctoral scholars transitioning to Rush and support those leaving Rush as they embark on new careers. The idea is to provide a community where post-doctoral scholars can share ideas and concerns, and socialize with peers. The RPS has a committee comprised of Rush postdoctoral fellows who meet once a month to organize career development seminars, workshops and social events. There are about 10 organized sessions per year. Each session touches upon one or more of the 6 National Post-doctoral Association competencies.

T32 post-doctoral trainees have ready access to the resources of the Rush Mentoring Programs, which was created to ensure successful transition to independency of junior faculty recruits at Rush. One of the major advantages of this program is that it gives post-doctoral fellows an opportunity to learn directly from their successful peers and junior faculty.

Other key training mechanisms include local activities such as seminar series, journal clubs, clinical rounds, research rounds, residency didactic programs and the mentee’s lab meetings. We do not expect each trainee to participate in all of the local activities, but do expect the trainee and their mentor to develop a plan for participating in the most helpful ones. An important aspect of training is attendance at regional, national and international research meetings.

Compensation
We adhere to NIH guidelines, which can be found at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-19-036.html.  Health insurance will be provided as will support to attend one national meeting per year.

Application process
Please contact Dr. Rick Sumner for current availability of positions supported by the training grant.  We strongly encourage those interested in this program to directly contact the mentor of most interest, with a cc to Dr. Sumner (rick_sumner@rush.edu).

  • For the post-doctoral positions, required elements include a cover letter indicating your area of interest/desired mentor, NIH Biosketch, your best published work (manuscript or meeting abstract) and three letters of recommendation.  Please arrange a phone or in-person interview with your prospective mentor.  The prospective mentor is responsible for submitting the application.
  • For the short-term positions, please submit all required elements for the Dean’s Fellowship to Dr. Sumner one week before the due date.  If not selected for support by the training grant, your application will be forwarded to the Dean’s Office for consideration for a Dean’s Fellowship.  Some of the medical students prepare these applications through a first year research elective.
Information for prospective mentors (PI’s)

Criteria for being a preceptor
We have classified the training grant faculty into “preceptor” and “co-preceptor” categories. Criteria for being selected as a preceptor and continuing to be listed as a preceptor include (i) willingness to commit to training a post-doctoral fellow; (ii) adequate research funding to support the research effort; (iii) availability of a project relevant to joint health that will serve as a good training vehicle; and (iv) current or recent mentoring experience with TGE trainees. Several Rush faculty who meet the first three preceptor qualifications but lack previous or recent mentoring experience with TGE post-doctoral fellows are classified as co-preceptors. These faculty can serve as the primary advisor to a post-doctoral fellow as long as there is a formal co-sponsor from the preceptor faculty. Current Rush faculty wishing to transition to preceptor status or new faculty recruited to Rush wishing to be a training grant preceptor should submit their NIH Biosketch, history of mentoring and outline of research area to the Executive Committee, who will make a decision after consulting with the Advisory Board. We anticipate adding new preceptors to the training grant through recruitment of new faculty to Rush and through junior faculty establishing research independence and senior faculty re-establishing their funding base.

Obligations/Responsibilities
The mentor must commit to focusing on the 6 competencies for post-doctoral trainees outlined and defined by the National Post-doctoral Association (http://www.nationalpostdoc.org/?SixCoreComps#vi). These are: (i) discipline-specific conceptual knowledge; (ii) research skill development; (iii) communication skills; (iv) professionalism; (v) leadership and management skills; (vi) responsible conduct of research.  There are many resources available at Rush and through the T32 training program to help mentors meet these obligations.  The mentor must also recognize that the mentor-mentee relationship is a two-way street and both parties need to be proactive in recognizing and fulfilling their responsibilities. An important means to ensure communication between the trainee and mentor is the use of an individual development plan using myIDP. These plans are updated yearly by the trainee and mentor and reviewed by the mentoring committee. The mentor will work with a formal mentoring committee, consisting of the primary advisor and two other faculty members who themselves may or may not be training grant faculty.  It is expected that the post-doctoral trainee will meet weekly or bi-weekly in one-on-one sessions with the primary advisor. Periodic meetings with mentoring committee members to discuss research progress and career development occur approximately once a quarter. A formal mentoring committee meeting is scheduled every 6 to 12 months with either the Training Grant Director (Dr. Sumner) or one of the co-directors (Dr. Malfait or Dr. Wimmer). These more formal reviews provide feedback to the trainee and mentor on progress with respect to the research project and the trainee’s development plan.

An important outcome for the training grant is the publication record and subsequent funding success of our mentees.  Thus, we expect the mentors to be fully committed to ensuring timely submission of manuscripts and grant applications.  An important milestone for T32 appointees will be the submission of an individual training grant application to the NIH (F32) or another appropriate agency (such as the Arthritis Foundation or the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation) by the end of Year 1. The mentor must be willing to aid the trainee in writing individual grants will be a major point of emphasis and will serve as an excellent training vehicle.

Organizational chart
Organizational Chart

Mentor (PI) Research area
Chubinskaya, Susan, PhD
(Lab)
Osteoarthritis, cartilage trauma, human donor tissue
Fill, Michael, PhD
(Lab)
Small molecule therapeutics, Intracellular Ca, muscle, ryanodine receptor, inositol trisphosphate receptor
Gupta, Vineet, PhD
(Lab)
Small molecule therapeutics, inflammation, autoimmune diseases, CD11b/CD18 agonists, lupus
Hallab, Nadim James, PhD Total joint replacement, Implant degradation, biological reactivity to implant debris, inflammasome, immunity, metal sensitivity
Jacobs, Joshua, MD
(Lab)
Total joint replacement, retrieval analysis, biocompatibility, corrosion and wear
Lundberg, Hannah, PhD
(Lab)
Total joint replacement, computational biomechanics, finite element analysis
Maki, Carl, PhD
(Lab)
Small molecule therapeutics, cancer cell biology, p53, therapy resistance, osteosarcoma
Malfait, Anne-Marie, MD, PhD
(Lab)
Osteoarthritis, pain, heritable connective tissue diseases
Mikecz, Katalin, MD, PhD Inflammatory arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, CD44 therapy, intravital video microscopy, leukocyte trafficking
Miller, Rachel, PhD
(Lab)
Osteoarthritis, mechanical forces, pain, joint damage
Plaas, Anna, PhD
(Lab)
Osteoarthritis, hyaluronan metabolism, inflammation, tendinopathy, regeneration
Pourzal, Robin, PhD Total joint replacement, failure analysis, retrieval studies, adverse local tissue reaction
Ramos-Franco, Josefina, MD, PhD
(Lab)
Small molecule therapeutics, intracellusar Ca signaling, chondrocytes, osteocytes, inositol trisphosphate receptor, OA pain
Rios, Eduardo, Lic
(Lab)
Small molecule therapeutics, calcium signaling, skeletal muscle
Shafikhani, Sasha, PhD
(Lab)
Small molecule therapeutics, wound healing, immune dysregulation, articular cartilage
Sumner, Rick, PhD
(Lab)
Total joint replacement, bone regeneration, bone quality, peri-implant osteolysis, biomarkers, osteoarthritis
Wimmer, Markus, PhD
(Lab)
Total joint replacement, tribology, motion analysis, joint biomechanics, articular cartilage mechanobiology

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