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Research Training Overview (for basic science PhD's)

When postdoctoral positions not filled by a post-residency otolaryngologist, it will be filled by a PhD postdoctoral fellow carrying out research in one of the affiliated communication disorder laboratories. At this time there are eleven such laboratories (Bermingham-McDonogh, Fuchs, Norton, Oesterle, Perkel, Phillips, Rubel, Stone, Street, Tempel, and Werner).

In our experience, many outstanding young scientists who would be excellent colleagues in a clinical department have never considered such positions because of lack of experience working with clinically trained investigators. In addition, an increasing number of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery departments are finding it important to hire well-trained basic scientists and have established tenure-line positions. We have found that the daily interaction between trainees in basic and clinical science builds mutual respect and understanding of their individual goals. A research environment which encourages scientifically trained and clinically trained individuals to work together on both fundamental biological problems and clinically oriented research provides the impetus for future collaborations.

We feel that our laboratories provide such an environment, and several postdoctoral fellows (or junior faculty) have gone off to positions in which they were responsible for research training and collaborations with clinical investigators. Thus, allocating one or two positions to a PhD scientist who may be likely to join or interact actively a clinical department is both important for this training program and for the field of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery in general.

With this distribution of postdoctoral positions, it is not possible to support each of three residents for two years of postdoctoral work from this training grant, plus a post-residency fellow, plus one or two basic science trainees. However, since not every resident will seek two years and others can apply for individual NRSAs after their first postdoctoral fellowship year, we believe that this number of positions will be appropriate for the present size of our program and creates a healthy competitive environment for the available slots. We are also confident that each of these positions will be filled by a highly qualified applicant. For the past ten years, we have had more highly qualified and motivated applicants than available positions.

PhD and MD/PhD postdoctoral fellows are not required to take formal basic science courses during the time they are supported by this grant. Typically, however, when advanced courses in an area of special interest or relevant deficiencies are offered, they audit the course. On the other hand, PhD postdoctoral and predoctoral fellows are required to regularly attend the Wednesday morning conferences. This is a series of conferences (meeting from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. every Wednesday) which cover basic science and clinical aspects of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery. It is attended by all residents and faculty members in the otolaryngology- head and neck surgery department. It includes lectures, films, journal clubs, quality improvement conference, radiology and pathology conferences, resident and faculty case presentations, and special research presentations. In particular, there are meetings at which review and critique of ongoing resident research occurs. This requirement, in addition to daily interaction with Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery residents and faculty working in our laboratories, provides an unusually broad coverage of the research possibilities related to otolaryngology-head and neck surgery. In addition, it provides PhD research fellows the common foundation needed for productive interaction with clinical staff when they eventually take faculty positions.

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