The Immunology Training Program (ITP) supports students who matriculate at UVA through either the biomedical sciences graduate program (BIMS) or the medical scientist training program (MSTP). The BIMS and MSTP programs both require students to complete 3 research rotations in the first year prior to the selection of a research mentor. These rotations are scheduled in the absence of any concurrent coursework, enabling the student to devote full-time effort to laboratory work. The choice of the rotation laboratories is up to the trainee with the advice of his or her BIMS or MSTP Graduate Advisor.
During rotations, students typically either perform a small independent project, or assist a postdoctoral fellow or senior graduate student. Projects are always part of the investigator’s ongoing research. Students also participate in the lab meetings and journal clubs of the mentor. The purposes of the rotations are to: 1) introduce students to the operation of research laboratory; 2) allow students to acquire familiarity with different experimental techniques; and 3) acquaint students with potential mentors and the scientific questions and approaches addressed in their laboratories.
From the viewpoint of the ITP, rotation choices confirm a student’s interest in Immunology, and provide a vetting of their intellectual and laboratory skills. Research rotation reports are a part of the trainee’s application for ITP stipend support.