Research During Residency

Scholarly work is an essential component of the Vanderbilt residency training experience. Vanderbilt provides residents a wide array of scholarly opportunities including basic and clinical science, translational investigations, population/community research, and studies of educational methods.  A sample of opportunities includes:

Program leadership is committed to enabling a robust and meaningful research experience during residency. Key elements for success are mentorship, access to resources, and opportunities to acquire core research skills, and the Vanderbilt residency provides a structured framework to meet these needs and tailor experiences to interests of each individual resident.

Early in the internship year, each intern meets individually with program leadership to discuss specific interests. Following this discussion, and as individual career plans crystalize, each intern is connected to one or more Research Liaisons. Liaisons are research faculty from multiple disciplines across Vanderbilt who meet with residents to discuss research opportunities and connect residents with faculty conducting research in their field. Individual meetings with program leadership and Liaisons continue regularly throughout residency to ensure that each resident connects with faculty and mentors that share common scholarly interests.

Vanderbilt offers a range of resources to facilitate scholarly activity, including access to expert support staff, expertise in innovative methods, institutional research infrastructure, and financial support for clinical and translational research. Additionally, there are multiple educational opportunities for residents to acquire research skills such as study design, biostatistics, and methodology.


The program’s research framework has resulted in a strong track record of scholarly engagement and productivity by residents. In 2016, 97% of residents were actively engaged in a research project, 86% of residents had formally presented their scientific work, and 66% had published manuscripts related to their research. A selection of resources available to residents are described below.

The Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (VICTR)

Supported by the Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Office of Research and the NIH sponsored Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA), a primary mission of VICTR is to provide resources and services to support clinical and translational research. A sampling of available resources through VICTR include:

  • Pilot funding, support for clinical and translational hypothesis driven projects.
  • Studios, interdisciplinary panels of experts to provide individualized feedback on your research.
  • Data management (REDCap), a secure, web-based application to support data capture for research.
  • Participant recruitment, resources to identify and recruit subjects for research studies
  • Grant and manuscript preparation, resources for writing, editing, and publishing.
  • Education, regularly scheduled workshops covering research skills and resources.

BioVU and the Synthetic Derivative

BioVU and the Synthetic Derivative are two unique Vanderbilt resources for discovery. The Synthetic Derivative (SD) is a de-identified version of the VUMC EHR intended to support research. The SD currently contains clinical information on ~2.7 million subjects dating back to the 1980s, and approximately 1 million subjects have detailed longitudinal data. Data in the SD have been (and continue to be) recoded and structured to facilitate research.  Leveraging Vanderbilt’s bioinformatics expertise, the SD can be systematically queried to identify cohorts of interest for study. BioVU is the Vanderbilt biorepository that contains DNA extracted from discarded blood collected during routine clinical care. Samples are linked to de-identified clinical data in the Synthetic Derivative and can be used for genotype-phenotype studies. BioVU currently houses >240,000 samples and continue to grow.  Over 41,000 BioVU samples have been genotyped and there will be >125,000 samples with GWAS data by 2018. Genotypes are redeposited into the resource and all accrued genetic data are freely available for research.

Clinical Investigator Toolbox (CIT) Elective

The CIT is a two-week elective for second-year residents considering a career in clinical investigation. Residents receive a broad introduction to clinical research, including clinical trial design, epidemiology, outcomes research, biostatistics, biomedical ethics, and human subject protection (IRB). The course also provides hands-on skill sessions related to medical writing, oral presentations, searching the medical literature, and data management. There are also opportunities to discuss career development with senior faculty and representatives from advanced degree programs including the Masters of Science in Clinical Investigation (MSCI) and Masters of Public Health (MPH).