Research During Residency

Performing scholarly work is an essential component of the Vanderbilt residency training experience. Vanderbilt provides residents with a wide array of opportunities to participate in clinical investigations, translational research, basic science research, health services research, and research in educational methods. Program leadership is committed to enabling each resident to take advantage of these resources. Early in the internship year, each intern meets individually with program leadership to discuss specific interests. Following this discussion and as individual career plans begin to crystalize, each intern is assigned to one or more mentors. These mentors play many roles: career counselor, personal advisor, friendly sounding board, and for many of our residents, research advisor. Individual meetings with program leadership continue on a regular basis throughout residency to ensure that each resident connects with faculty that share common scholarly interests.

BioVU and the Synthetic Derivative

Leveraging its expertise in medical informatics, Vanderbilt has two unique resources for discovery: BioVU and the Synthetic Derivative. Many Department of Medicine faculty and residents are currently involved in funded projects using these programs.

BioVU is the Vanderbilt repository of DNA extracted from discarded blood collected during routine clinical testing and linked to de-identified clinical data in the Synthetic Derivative. DNA samples and re-deposited genetic data (GWAS, targeted genotyping, sequencing, etc.) within BioVU can be matched with de-identified clinical and demographic data within the Synthetic Derivative creating a centralized resource for making associations between genetic information and disease susceptibility or variable drug responses across populations. Currently, nearly 200,000 samples have been collected and continue to be collected at the rate of 1,000 per week.

The Synthetic Derivative is a database containing clinical information derived from Vanderbilt's electronic medical record, labeled with a unique research ID, and stripped of all personal identifiers. Thus, the Synthetic Derivative is a set of records that is no longer linked to the identified medical record from which it is derived. Currently, over two million records are contained in the Synthetic Derivative. The Synthetic Derivative can be used as a stand-alone research resource or can be used in conjunction with BioVU to identify record sets for genome-phenome analysis.

Clinical Investigator Toolbox

In the fall of 2012, a new two-week elective was created for second-year residents interested in learning more about and potentially pursuing a career that includes clinical investigation. The course is agnostic to specialties, as excellent clinical investigation can occur across the spectrum of medical specialties. Vanderbilt University has been a leader in clinical research dating back over 50 years. Residents are introduced to different aspects of clinical research, including clinical trial design, epidemiology, outcomes research, biostatistics, biomedical ethics, and human subject protection (IRB). The course addresses issues particular to writing medical abstracts and giving medical presentations. There is some time for independent study that can be used to work on an ongoing project or to help to find the mentorship needed to embark on a project. Representatives from the Masters of Science in Clinical Investigation (MSCI) and Masters of Public Health (MPH) provide an overview of their programs so that residents can determine if these advanced degrees would be of value to their career development. Given the short duration, this course is not designed to be comprehensive. Rather, it is designed to “whet the appetite” of the resident for clinical research.

Research Curriculum Rotation

In addition to the Clinical Investigator Toolbox elective, a new research rotation was established in 2013 that is available to all residents and is offered throughout the year. Residents enter into this rotation with a pre-identified research mentor with whom they work closely. The rotation also has a focused didactic curriculum covering important areas such as identifying a mentor, forming a question, literature review, defining methods, data collection, data analysis, and writing and presenting data. The balance of the rotation consists of protected time for residents to work on their projects.

Resident Publications and Presentations

Listed below are representative publications and presentations from current Vanderbilt residents and 2013 graduates on work performed during their residency; note that this list is not comprehensive.

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