NIH Training Programs at the University of Arizona

The Division of Translational and Regenerative Medicine supports multiple collaborative training and education programs in health care run by others at the University of Arizona that are funded through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This includes work by UA investigators who’ve received Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Institutional Training (or T32) Grants, the UA College of Medicine’s Medical Student Research Program, and the UA Summer Institute on Medical Ignorance (SIMI) Program.

T32 Training Grants

As described on the NIH website, the T32 Training Grant program enables institutions to make National Research Service Awards to individuals selected by them for predoctoral and postdoctoral research training in specified shortage areas.

There are currently 10 NIH T32 training programs in which the faculty members of the Division or Translational and Regenerative Medicine train predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows. The Principal Investigators and titles of the training grants at the University are:

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Medical Student Research Program and Related High School/Undergraduate Student Research Programs

Advances in medicine are taking place at a staggering pace, and what was considered basic science only yesterday is now part of everyday clinical practice. To enrich medical student education beyond classroom lectures, hospital ward and clinic clerkships, and to foster a closer relationship with faculty mentors, the UA College of Medicine sponsors a long-standing Medical Student Research Program (MSRP) and an innovative Curriculum on Medical Ignorance (CMI).

Student research fellows gain familiarity with biologic horizons in both basic and clinical science, acquire a broad grasp of research skills, learn to communicate ideas better, refine clinical problem identification and solving, meet distinguished visiting physicians and scientists, and work closely with faculty and other students at various levels in diverse laboratory and patient care settings both at the UA and other institutions throughout the world.

Founded in 1987 and 1991, respectively, the NIH High School Student/K-12 Science Teacher Research Program—which is integrated into the Medical Student Research Program and was funded by various NIH sources (NIH, 1998-2002; SEPA, 2000-13; NINDS, 2011-16; NICHD, 2013-17; and NIAID, 2013-18) to develop and run a Translating Translation and Scientific Questioning collaborative curriculum on “medical ignorance,” K-12 Virtual Clinical Research Center and a Medical Ignorance Explorarium (see website: www.medicalignorance.org) to improve scientific and health literacy)—offers a variety of student- and teacher-centered activities.

In addition to medical and high school students, 19 diverse undergraduate student researchers (predominantly students previously graduated from the SIMI Program—see below) joined the 2014 summer program. Most of these returning SIMI alumni were placed in their prior or related research laboratory or clinic under their former or a collaborating mentor. Research emphasis targeted cardiovascular-blood- lung research. These undergraduate student researchers worked for two to three months over the summer recess. They were joined by a select group of five UA Biomedical Engineering (BME) undergraduate students in BME Professor Barton's NIH-funded program along with medical students in the NIH-funded MSRP.

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Summer Institute on Medical Ignorance Program

The Summer Institute on Medical Ignorance (SIMI) Program was developed to enrich student education and general health literacy beyond classroom lectures. Additionally, it fosters closer relationships between local teachers and students and medical professionals. Linked to the UA College of Medicine - Tucson's Curriculum on Medical Ignorance (CMI), SIMI focuses primarily on students and teachers from disadvantaged environments.

Research fellows gain familiarity with biologic horizons in both basic and clinical science, acquire a broad grasp of research skills, learn to communicate more clearly and refine their problem-solving skills. They meet distinguished visiting scientists and physicians, working closely with professionals who teach them how to translate questioning techniques into their lives and classrooms. More than 350 high school students and 115 teachers in Arizona have been awarded summer research fellowships. Many former SIMI students have gone on to significant careers in science, sometimes rejoining the program as medical students. The vast majority of participants say the research program was enlightening; students credit it with spurring their interest in medicine, and teachers say it has vastly changed their classrooms. We are currently developing a medical ignorance collaboratory and an online project that will expand the program—and its opportunities—to teachers, students and lifelong learners worldwide.

About 25 students are accepted for the SIMI program each year. They work full-time in various medical laboratories and clinics at the UA Health Sciences colleges, centers and institutes, doing research on such subjects as cardiovascular disease, genetics, cancer, neuroscience and preventive medicine.

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