UCLA provides a variety of different pathways for individuals interested in research careers through the Academic Research Track. The goal of each pathway within the Academic Research Track is to provide a longitudinal, mentored research training experience that prepares trainees for careers as independently funded investigators. We offer research training in a variety of areas including basic/translational research, clinical HIV research (domestic and/or international), global health, transplant infectious diseases, hospital epidemiology, antimicrobial stewardship, emerging infectious diseases, and health services and health outcomes research. Trainees can take advantage of a variety of departments, institutes, and schools with the biomedical and main campuses of UCLA, the Greater Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Healthcare System (GLAVAHCS), and other institutions, including the RAND Corporation, and the California Institute of Technology, among others.
Mentorship Teams: UCLA’s model for research training utilizes mentorship teams. Each trainee has a primary mentor but is also supported by secondary mentors with complementary skillsets. Trainees in the research track have flexible time during the first year during one to two two-week research elective blocks and micro/epi rotations and utilize this time to work with their primary mentor to develop research ideas that can be pursued beginning in the second year of training. Throughout the research training program (years 2 and beyond), trainees have quarterly meetings with their mentorship team to review progress, identify upcoming research goals, and address challenges and barriers to achieving those goals. This structured and supportive environment has resulted in a high level of success for our research fellows.
Funding: UCLA provides funding for the duration of participation in the Academic Research Track, beginning after the intensive clinical year (STAR PhD ~4 years; STAR postdoctoral fellows ~2 years, non-STAR/CTSI research training on our training grant or other funding sources ~2 years; CTSI funding for Master’s of Science ~2 years). This guaranteed salary (based on PGY level) allows trainees to focus on building skills and a strong foundation in research during this critical time for career development.
UCLA faculty are committed to training the next generation of infectious diseases researchers. Since 2008, over 80% of trainees completing a research fellowship have transitioned to faculty positions at UCLA or elsewhere. We believe this is a true testament to the strength of our program and our commitment to helping trainees achieve their career goals.
The following Academic Research Track pathways are currently offered:
- Specialty Training and Advanced Research (STAR) PhD – Fellows participating in the STAR PhD pathway start work towards a PhD in the beginning of the second year of fellowship. PhDs can be obtained in a variety of areas ranging from basic science to public health (including epidemiology and health services/outcomes research). Fellows have the opportunity to work across departments, divisions, and schools and perform cross-disciplinary research. Fellows can work with mentors in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics, the Department of Pathology and Laboratory and Medicine, the Fielding School of Public Health, and other departments across the UCLA campus. In the last several years we have had fellows performing research with Caltech, the UCLA School of Engineering and other Divisions within the Department of Medicine, including Health Services Research and Pulmonary/Critical Care. We encourage you to review faculty biographies available on the web as well as the websites of collaborating departments and institutes to explore the vast array of opportunities available for PhD training through our fellowship program.
- STAR Postdoctoral Research – Fellows participating in this pathway already have a PhD or equivalent degree and begin postdoctoral research at the beginning of their second year. Fellows have the opportunity to work across departments, divisions, and schools and perform cross-disciplinary research. Fellows can work with mentors in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics, the Department of Pathology and Laboratory and Medicine, the Fielding School of Public Health, and other departments across the UCLA campus. In the last several years we have had fellows performing research with Caltech, the UCLA School of Engineering and other Divisions within the Department of Medicine, including Health Services Research and Pulmonary/Critical Care. We encourage you to review faculty biographies available on the web as well as the websites of collaborating departments and institutes to explore the vast array of opportunities available for postdoctoral training through our fellowship program. The following links also provide information on basic science research available through our fellowship program:
- UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) Master’s of Science Degree in Clinical Research (MSc) – Fellows participating in this pathway start the Master’s program in the fall of the second year of fellowship and typically complete two years of course work culminating in a thesis and the awarding of an MSCR degree. This pathway is designed for individuals who are interested in a career in clinical trials and the training is specifically designed to prepare fellows to be grant-funded researchers. Mentors help fellows design research projects that synergize with their degree courses; for example, secondary data analyses that can be used in courses on statistical methods and/or survey projects that can be supported by coursework on survey design. The MSCR requires completion of a thesis, which typically serves as the core research for career development and, for most fellows in this pathway, becomes preliminary data for a K-series NIH grant (career development award). By the completion of the MSCR program, fellows are well positioned to write a K-award and transition to the next phase of their careers.
- Global Health – Global Health fellows are encouraged to work with one of UCLA’s established global partners. These sites offer established infrastructure and experienced mentors. Fellows may also draw from past global health partnerships and relationships (as long as a UCLA mentor is engaged) and the greater resources of the Global Health Program and broader campus global health community to complement their work. After completion of the first year of intensive clinical training, global health fellows begin research with a combination of experiences at UCLA and at a global partner site. As per ACGME requirements, fellows in this track must complete a half-day continuity HIV clinic in the second year (or throughout the second and third years). Mentors work with fellows in this track to allow for completion of their HIV continuity clinic while utilizing intermittent time away to launch global projects. Certain partner sites (those with a US trained ID physician) can serve as a continuity clinic should the ACGME requirements be met, allowing the fellow to live and work full time outside of the US. Global Health fellows typically complete a total of 3 years of training (1 year of clinical and 2 years of research). Fellows may be funded for a 4th year of training should that be necessary to provide additional time to obtain grants (such as an NIH K-award).
- Non-degree, non-global research opportunities – UCLA is a rich environment for fellows interested in a wide array of research topics and who have already received a Master’s degree or have significant research experience and do not desire a degree as part of their research training. There are broad opportunities for mentorship in transplant research, infections in immunocompromised hosts, hospital epidemiology, emerging infectious diseases, domestic HIV, and topics related to climate change and health, among others. Fellows pursuing this more independent pathway will be funded through available T32 training grants or directly through a combination of ID Division and mentor funds.
The Academic Research Track offers an inspirational, exciting, and stimulating environment, not only involving resources from the School of Medicine, but also those of the School of Public Health and greater campus community. Examples of programs with whom fellows might work or otherwise participate include:
- UCLA Center for Clinical AIDS Research and Education (CARE)
- UCLA Center for World Health
- UCLA AIDS Institute and Center for AIDS Research
- UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute
- UCLA Department of Medicine Biostatistics Core
- UCLA Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research
- California Nanosystems Institute
- UCLA Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology
- UCLA Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics
- UCLA Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
- RAND, Santa Monica
- UCLA Fielding School of Public Health