Division of Infectious Diseases

Fellowship Training Tracks

Following the first clinical year of fellowship training, the research components of the fellowship are structured into 4 organized research training tracks: Basic Science, Clinical and Translational Research, Epidemiology/Public Health, and HIV Medicine. These tracks serve to focus the career/research training trajectory for prospective fellows. However, a fellow is not bound to one track but rather encouraged to incorporate aspects of two or more of these tracks to individualize their training experiences. Each of these tracks may also be designed to have a global/international component in which some or all of the research training can be accomplished in programs and facilities in any number of international settings.

Basic Science Track

Fellows electing to train in the basic science track will choose a laboratory-based mentor with whom they will develop a training plan focused on acquiring laboratory research skills and experience in an area of expertise for the laboratory mentor and in which the fellow has a career interest.

Mentors may be chosen from within the Division or from among other UC San Diego faculty or faculty of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, The Scripps Research Institute, the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, the J. Craig Venter Institute or others basic science laboratories affiliated with UC San Diego. The selected mentor and laboratory must be approved by the Program Director and the Division Head based on review of a brief proposal that includes both research and career development plans prior to the beginning research training in Year 2 of the fellowship.

Clinical and Translational Research

The Clinical and Translational Research track includes integrated training in patient-oriented research in a clinical area of expertise for the research mentor(s). Projects may extend across a spectrum from the bench to the bedside.

Members of the Division are heavily engaged in clinical and translational research programs both here at UC San Diego and in international settings, with research areas of interest that include HIV; viral hepatitis; influenza; tuberculosis; invasive fungal disease; protozoal infections, malaria and other tropical diseases; Ebola and Lassa Fever viruses; Zika virus, and other emerging infectious diseases.

Fellows electing to train in this track may choose projects or programs with mentors in the US or in global/international settings and do some or most of their research outside the US. As in the Basic Science Track, mentors must be approved by the Program Director and the Division Head based on review of a brief proposal that includes both research and career development plans prior to the beginning research training in Year 2 of the fellowship.

Epidemiology/Public Health Research

Members of the Division of Infectious Diseases hold joint appointments in or work closely with faculty from the Department of Medicine’s Division of Global Public Health, which allows reciprocal training opportunities and expert mentors for post-doctoral fellows with an interest in Epidemiology and Public Health research. Dr. Steffanie Strathdee is the Division Director, as well as serving as the Director of the International Health and Cross-Cultural Medicine program and the Co-Director together with Dr. Schooley of the UC San Diego Center for AIDS Research International Core. They jointly coordinate international research activities supported by the CFAR.

Dr. Benson leads the NIH/NIAID-sponsored UC San Diego CD4 Collaborative Clinical Trials Unit that includes clinical research sites in international settings, and participates in the NIAID’s AIDS Clinical Trials Group network, the HIV Prevention Trials Network and the HIV Vaccine Trials Network.

Other faculty within the Infectious Diseases Division have international research programs in a wide variety of global settings. Current focus countries for these and other activities include Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, India, Mozambique and Zimbabwe (through the CFAR), as well as Peru, China, Zambia, Ethiopia, Bangladesh and other countries (through individual faculty research programs).

Fellows interested in training with an emphasis on epidemiology/public health or clinical investigation in international settings are encouraged to work with faculty from one or both Divisions to develop a career development and research training plans that fit their career goals. These must be approved as described above for the other research tracks.

HIV Medicine

The HIV Medicine track includes integrated clinical, laboratory and epidemiologic/public health training focused specifically on HIV medicine. Fellows who wish to pursue an academic career in HIV medicine may select a mentor or co-mentors from among Infectious Diseases Division or other UC San Diego faculty with HIV expertise and experience.

This track offers post-doctoral trainees a full spectrum of research opportunities in the field of HIV. This track will also encompass components and can include co-mentors within each of the other tracks in order to prepare fellows to conduct basic, clinical and translational or epidemiology/public health patient-oriented research related to HIV, either in the US or in other global settings where HIV is prevalent.

Post-doctoral fellows will work with faculty within the Infectious Diseases Division, the Owen Clinic HIV Program or the NeuroAIDS program who have research expertise and clinical experience in all aspects of HIV medicine. Specific programs led by UC San Diego faculty include the UC San Diego CD4 Collaborative HIV/AIDS Clinical Trials Unit (and its 5 clinical research sites, two of which are international), which participates in research activities conducted by the NIH/NIAID-sponsored HIV networks (ACTG, HPTN, HVTN), the Acute and Early HIV Program led by Dr. Susan Little and based at the Antiviral Research Center, the California HIV Research Program (CHRP)-sponsored California Collaborative HIV Treatment Program led by Dr. Sheldon Morris and also based at the Antiviral Research Center, the CNICS and other HRSA-sponsored research programs based at the Owen HIV Clinic, the latter led by Dr. Charles Hicks, and the NIH/NIMH-sponsored NeuroAIDS and HIV Neurobehavioral Research Program (HNRP), based within the Department of Psychiatry, but with Infectious Diseases Division faculty who play key roles in the programs, among many others. The NeuroAIDS program offers an NIMH-funded R25 training program that can provide research support for residents or fellows interested in pursuing additional clinical research training in NeuroAIDS.

As with the other tracks, mentors must be approved by the Program Director and the Division Head based on review of a brief proposal that includes both research and career development plans prior to the beginning research training in Year 2 of the fellowship.

Global/International Health

Although Global/International Health is not a formal “track” within the fellowship training program, we recognize that many trainees are interested in developing careers that include international or global health. As previously stated, the Infectious Diseases Division is highly supportive of career development that incorporates global/international health as part of the research focus in any of the tracks within the fellowship program.

Opportunities for training in international settings exist through both sponsored programmatic and individual mentor-focused research activities that span the full spectrum of basic, clinical, epidemiologic and public health research. Opportunities exist in Mexico, Brazil, Peru, South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, India, Bangladesh, China, Eastern Europe and other countries.

Post-doctoral fellows with an interest in a career in international medicine may choose a mentor with ongoing collaborative projects and programs in a scientific area of interest, and will develop a career and research development plan with an emphasis on one or more of the four tracks outlined above, but with major components to be conducted in international settings.

Mentors and programs must be approved by the Program Director and the Division Head based on review of a brief proposal that includes both research and career development plans prior to the beginning research training in Year 2 of the fellowship.