Injury and Critical Illness Postdoctoral Training Program

Contact: Dr. Xiaoli Zhao

The purpose of these institutional training grants is to provide a cohort of investigators seeking to improve the understanding of the body's systemic responses to major injury, with an overall goal of fostering application of this knowledge to the treatment of trauma and burn injury victims as well as critically ill patients. Programs should provide multidisciplinary research training for individuals at the postdoctoral level. While the majority of trainees should be physicians at some stage of their residency or clinical specialty training, individuals with Ph.D.s can also be eligible as long as the training grant program provides some unique insight to the clinical aspects of trauma. Trainees from other clinical disciplines, such as D.V.M.s or D.D.S.s, are eligible as well, providing their research interests and career goals are compatible with both the training program and the general mission of NIGMS.

The overall focus of responsive training grant programs and research projects undertaken by trainees may be characterized as directed toward understanding the biological mechanisms underlying trauma and burn injury and associated pathologies. Suitable research topics may be broadly categorized as adaptive or maladaptive physiological responses to trauma or burn injury and shock, including but not limited to whole organism, organ, tissue, cellular and molecular responses (adaptive, compensatory or dysfunctional); mechanisms of cellular and organ failure (alterations in cellular bioenergetics, necrosis and apoptosis; single organ failure; and acute respiratory distress syndrome or multiple organ dysfunction syndrome); resuscitation strategies and mechanisms; post-injury alterations of metabolic patterns and nutritional requirements; normal or pathophysiological changes following injury, and factors or therapies influencing stabilization and recovery; alterations in host defense mechanisms (innate and adaptive immune mechanisms, systemic inflammatory response syndrome, compensatory anti-inflammatory response syndrome); wound healing, tissue repair, regeneration, tissue engineering related to repair of traumatic injuries; and behavioral antecedents or consequences of trauma or burn injury as related to physiological responses. The time frame suitable for research projects is from immediately post-injury through ultimate resolution (recovery or death). As such, research topics derived from issues faced within the emergency/acute care setting and critical care units are acceptable. Training grant programs focusing on research solely in traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury, epidemiology, injury prevention, long-term rehabilitation strategies, delivery of health care or the physics of tissue damage will not be accepted by NIGMS. These topics are, however, important aspects within the trauma and emergency/critical care communities, so exposure of the trainees to the topics via seminars, coursework or rotations through appropriate settings (laboratories or otherwise) may serve a role in rounding out the educational experience.

Mentors and supervisory staff for responsive training grant programs could be a mixture of physician-scientists from multiple specialties, including but not limited to trauma and/or burn surgeons, anesthesiologists, pathology, emergency medicine, internal medicine, and/or infectious disease specialists, as well as those with other clinical degrees and basic scientists (individuals with Ph.D. degrees). Past history indicates that at least 2 years in the training program are needed to achieve lasting benefit, and thus both trainees and, if applicable, their residency program should recognize and accept the time commitment. Training grant programs should expose trainees to such basic disciplines as biochemistry, physiology, immunology, microbiology, cell biology, molecular biology, biomedical engineering or behavioral sciences, but be multidisciplinary in nature. Direct clinical training or experience should not be a part of the program, although providing understanding of the clinical relevance of their individual research projects is an important aspect for all trainees. Suitable research projects may be basic laboratory or clinical studies or may be translational in nature. Research training may be augmented or supplemented with coursework as needed or considered appropriate, including the mandatory training in the responsible conduct of science. Exposure to the principles of grantsmanship and statistics as related to experimental design and data analysis will likely be a necessary part of the educational experience. Programmatic features, possibly including seminar series or yearly retreats, should be considered and included to benefit both the trainees and participating faculty.