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Research Track in Psychiatry

Didactic Instruction

Beyond the mentored research experience, there are several other organized didactic experiences offered as part of the Research Track curriculum.

1. Research Track Core Series: The Research Track Core Series is a weekly session designed specifically for research-oriented residents. Attendance is required of Research Track trainees. This Series consists of formal didactic lectures that focus on research topics, including research design and methodology, statistics, ethical conduct of research and scientific topics selected by the residents.

Additional sessions revolve around selected faculty members; rather than give a formal lecture on their research, however, they are asked to focus on one of two specific areas. One group of faculty speakers is asked to discuss how their career developed, what it is like to be an academic psychiatrist, obstacles faced in the conduct of their research and career, and additional activities that are part of an academic career (what is it like to edit a journal, write a book, be a chairman of the department or other administrator, etc.).

A second group of faculty is invited to address more specific research issues, but are instructed not to give a standard data-filled talk, but are rather encouraged to select a problem and share the thought process that went into defining the question, posing the hypothesis, how the problem was addressed, and obstacles and detours along the way.

A third set of sessions is reserved for a more traditional journal club, led each session by one of the Research Track residents; residents are particularly encouraged to use their own papers for these sessions. A final set of these sessions revolve around the practical aspects of an academic, research-focused career, and include hands-on material such as how to prepare for and give an effective talk. This aspect of the Series culminates at the end of each academic year, when each Research Track resident presents a formal talk about their research progress for the year. In addition to the regular participants in the Series, the research mentors, interested faculty and other residents attend these presentations.

2. Annual Research Track Resident Retreat: Research Track residents attend an annual two day, one night retreat. Each retreat is organized around thematic sessions, each led by a different faculty member and featuring an invited speaker from outside the University of Michigan. The goals of the retreat are to provide an intense, focused educational experience, which otherwise would not be possible in a one hour didactic lecture format, and to promote camaraderie between Research Track residents and successful academic faculty. For example, a recent retreat was based on a National Institute of Mental Health study section format. Research Track residents are given two grant proposals to review prior to the retreat. The first session is a roundtable discussion on aspects of grant review. In the next session, residents present the grants they reviewed for consideration for mock funding. Led by a faculty member with experience participating on study sections, this provides invaluable experience and insight for Research Track residents as they transition into positions that require extramural funding. Following this session, faculty reviews of the same grant are distributed for comparison and discussion.

3. Department of Psychiatry Educational Activities: Research Track residents are expected to attend Department of Psychiatry educational activities. At least once during the course of training, residents are expected to participate in Psychiatry Grand Rounds, at which they present their work.

4. University of Michigan Postdoctoral Research Training Course: As noted above, about half of Research Track residents pursue clinical research training, but the other half typically have a strong interest in basic science training as it relates to psychiatry. While some Research Track residents have entered the track with a Ph.D. and strong laboratory skills, for others, after four years of medical school, they may not have the laboratory skills or the knowledge needed to permit them to make the most of their combined residency-research training. Accordingly, there is an elective option for those Research Track residents with a strong interest in basic science training. This option is an annual basic science training laboratory course, designed specifically for physicians. This is a unique course offered at the University of Michigan. It is taught over twelve weeks requiring ten hours per day, five days a week. Each week has a separate focus and different type of laboratory experience. The main goal of the course is to teach physicians how to think about scientific problems and, to a degree, solve them. For the M.D. with a strong interest in science, it is an excellent way to enhance their training to be a clinician-investigator. The course focuses on biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology. It is taught by ten of the most successful (and well-funded) faculty in the University of Michigan Medical School (several of whom are from MBNI). Each department in the Medical School is permitted to nominate one participant per year (in order to keep the class size small). Over the past five years, the Department of Psychiatry has sponsored four Research Track residents and fellows in this course, and it has been enthusiastically endorsed by participants from the Department.