Research and Clinical Training

The Division houses a wide spectrum of research in Infectious Diseases and International Health. Studies span from investigations of molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis and immunity through clinical trials testing of interventions directed to reducing infection- associated morbidity and mortality; studies are conducted in volunteers in the United States and in less developed locations. Many are made in collaboration with other members of the UTHealth community.

 

Clinical:

Clinical Consultations: We provide clinical consultation for the pediatric service at Memorial Hermann Children’s Hospital, which is the primary teaching hospital of the University of Texas Medical School. The hospital is dedicated to meeting the needs of children from infancy through adolescence, has nearly 150 pediatric beds –34 general pediatric beds, 28 subspecialty pediatric beds, 120 neonatal beds (plus 35 normal infant bassinets which are part of the main Hermann Hospital) and 15 Pediatric Critical Care Unit beds for seriously ill, injured or burned children. We also provide infectious diseases and HIV consultation to the 200 bed pediatric/neonatal service at the Lyndon B. Johnson General Hospital, which is one of two charity hospitals that serve Harris County.

Infectious Disease Clinics: Pediatric Infectious Disease clinic and two HIV clinics meet weekly. We receive referrals from Houston and surrounding areas, as well as follow select patients with infectious diseases or immunologic abnormalities.

Responsibilities to the Department of Pediatrics include instruction in Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology to pediatric house staff and students. We are available for consultation to the general pediatric clinic.

 

Research:

Clinical Research: The Division houses a wide spectrum of research in Infectious Diseases and International Health. Studies span from investigations of molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis and immunity through clinical trials testing of interventions directed to reducing infection associated morbidity and mortality; studies are conducted in volunteers in the United States and in less developed locations. Many are made in collaboration with other members of the UTHealth community. The Division is active in conducting clinical trials in patients with HIV infection and in studying infectious diseases in children in foreign countries.

Laboratory Research: While fellows are encouraged to initiate their own research program, they may select a project which complements existing research activities in the areas of host defense with relation to identification of specific and non-specific anti-infectious protective factors; determination of etiology, pathogenesis, and host responses to infectious agents; and pathophysiology, diagnosis and treatment of infections.

Goals of Research

  • To assimilate new knowledge, concepts, and techniques in pediatric infectious diseases.
  • To formulate clear and testable hypotheses from a body of information so as to be prepared to become an effective pediatric infectious disease physician.
  • To engage in specific areas of scholarly activity to allow for the acquisition of skills in the critical analysis of the work of others.
  • To advance research in infectious diseases.

Objectives of Research

  • Engage in a project, under the supervision of a mentor, which allows the fellow to develop hypotheses or substantive scholarly exploration and analysis that requires critical thinking.
  • Attain a basic understanding of the methods needed for the research project and submit a research protocol to the appropriate institutional committee for approval.
  • Collect and analyze data, derive and defend conclusions, and place conclusions in the context of what is known or not known about a specific area of inquiry.
  • Present work in oral and written form to a Scholarly Oversight Committee (see below) and submit a first-author manuscript to a relevant high-impact, quality journal for peer-review.

Research Timeline and Expectations

  • The fellow is allotted eighteen months for research. The research project must be completed before the end of the third year of fellowship training. The project must be hypothesis-driven, achievable, and relevant to pediatric infectious diseases.
  • The initiation of a research project starts during the first year and includes the identification of a research mentor, a research project, preparing the protocol with IRB submission and presentation to the Scholarly Oversight Committee. It is essential that the research mentor has the expertise to successfully oversee the fellow’s research project.
  • During the second year, the fellow will collect and analyze the data.
  • During the third year, the fellow will submit a first-authored manuscript of his or her research for peer-review.
  • These activities require active participation by the fellow and his or her mentor. The mentor(s) will be responsible for providing continuous feedback, which is essential for the trainee’s professional development.

Scholarly Oversight Committee

The Scholarly Oversight Committee has several functions.

  • Determine whether a specific activity is appropriate to meet the American Board of Pediatrics guidelines for scholarly activity.
  • Determine a course of preparation beyond the core fellowship curriculum Evaluate the fellow’s progress as related to scholarly activity.
  • Meet with the fellow early in the training period and every six months thereafter.
  • Require the fellow to present and defend his or her scholarly research project.
  • Advise the Fellowship Program Director on the fellow’s progress and assess whether the fellow has satisfactorily met the guidelines associated with the requirement for active participation in scholarly activities.
  • The final responsibility of the SOC is to review and approve the final scholarly “work product” of the fellow prior to submission to the ABP at the completion of training.

Work Product Report

Involvement in scholarly activities must result in the generation of a specific written “work product” as outlined by the ABP (www.abp.org). Examples of include, but are not limited to:

  • A peer-reviewed publication in which a fellow played a substantial role
  • An in-depth manuscript describing a completed project
  • A thesis or dissertation written in connection with the pursuit of an advanced degree
  • An extramural grant application that has either been accepted or favorably reviewed
  • A progress report for projects of exceptional complexity, such as a multi-year clinical trial

The fellow’s SOC will be instrumental in guiding the fellow’s activity towards an acceptable product. It is the responsibility of each fellow to write their work product report and personal statement, as well as obtain approval from the SOC to be eligible to sit for the Subspecialty Board Examination.