FAQs about the academic research track

I already have an MPH and am interested in a research career. Which pathway is best for me? 

Those with an MPH have a variety of options depending on their research interests. Individuals with an interest in gaining a specific type of research skill may want to pursue an MSc or PhD with a focus on advancing a specific skillset (epidemiology or advanced biostatistics, for example). Individuals with an interest in global health can enter the global health pathway (funded by our training grant) and spend the second and third years actively pursuing research without being part of a formal degree program.

I already have a PhD. Which pathway is best for me? Can I still be a STAR fellow? 

Individuals with a PhD would join the STAR Postdoctoral Research Pathway and begin intensive research (without course work) starting at the beginning of the second year of fellowship.

I am interested in global health research. How much time away can I spend during fellowship to pursue research at one of the UCLA partner sites? 

All individuals in the Academic Research Track are required to have a half-day HIV continuity clinic during the second year. During this year, mentors work with global health fellows to spend shorter periods of time in their global research setting to advance their research. If a global health site has an appropriate individual that can serve as an HIV clinic preceptor, the trainee can spend the entire second year abroad and complete the continuity requirement at the partner site. After completion of the HIV continuity requirement, there are no restrictions on time spent away from UCLA pursuing global health research.

I am interested in global health research. Does UCLA have any strong partnerships that are able to support ID fellows who want to do research? 

The Division of Infectious Diseases has several global partner sites that are ideal for fellow research projects, including Peru, Brazil, and Malawi. We also have close relationships with faculty in the Fielding School of Public Health and trainees can explore working with these partner sites and institutions, including Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cambodia. Language requirements may be applicable and we encourage interested applicants to identify sites of interest so that interviews can be arranged with faculty working at these sites.

How is the clinical experience different for Academic Research Track fellows compared to fellows in the Clinical Scholars Track? 

Fellows in the Advanced Research Track perform all of their clinical training in the first year with the exception of HIV continuity clinic. Compared to fellows in the Clinical Scholars Track, fellows in the Academic Research Track will have ~1-2 more months of inpatient consult service (replacing outpatient blocks) and will have a half-day per week general ID continuity clinic that they will attend. Research Track trainees will rotate through all of the same sites as the Clinical Scholars trainees.

What are the clinical responsibilities for fellows in the Academic Research Track after the first year of training? 

All fellows (both Clinical Scholars and Academic Research) will be required to provide weekend coverage (~1 weekend per month) during the second year of fellowship. Academic Research Track fellows will also have ½ day of HIV clinic during the second year. This clinic can be done at a variety of sites within the program (Olive View, West LA VA, UCLA CARE, or community sites). Fellows can request a specific clinic and every attempt will be made to accommodate these requests. After the second year of fellowship, Academic Research Track applicants will continue to contribute to the pool for weekend coverage, but this requirement will not exceed one weekend per month. There are no outpatient clinic requirements after the second year.

If I enter the Clinical Scholars Track and decide I am interested in a research career, can I switch to the Academic Research Track? 

If a trainee in the Clinical Scholars Track becomes interested in an academic research career, every effort will be made to support a transition into the Academic Research Track. The Fellowship Director will consider these requests on a case-by-case basis, and approval will depend on availability of funded slots within a particular research pathway.  

How do I find a research mentor? 

We believe the choice of an ID fellowship for those seeking academic research training is genuinely a match between an individual and their mentor(s), and that strong mentorship is the key to achieving your career goals. Prior to coming to interview at UCLA we recommend you review the research pathway options and the list of available research mentors (a list of research mentors will be provided to you at the time you are invited to interview).  Prior to your interview date we will contact you to identify your general research interests and request a list of faculty with whom you would like to meet. When you come for the interview, every attempt will be made to schedule you with these faculty. After the interview day, we will continue to arrange phone calls and/or follow-up meetings to help answer any additional questions or provide additional interviews with faculty that may not have been available on the interview day.  Faculty mentors can come from the Division of Infectious Diseases, other Divisions within the Department of Medicine, the Fielding School of Public Health, or other departments across campus. In the last several years we have had ID fellows mentored by individuals from the School of Engineering, the Division of Pulmonary/Critical Care Medicine, and the Division of Health Services Research, among others.

How do I apply for the STAR program? 
PhD and postdoctoral candidates will be notified of acceptance into the STAR pathway in advance of the match list due date. Applicants interested in the MSc program will apply for STAR after arrival at UCLA (during the first year of fellowship). Our program has had a very high rate of acceptance into the STAR MSc program amongst applying ID fellows. During the interview, faculty can provide additional information on developing a successful application for the STAR MSc program.