For additional information about the LEAD program, please contact:

Dr. Jessica Merlin
LEAD Program Director
Associate Program Director for Research

Dr. Georgios Kitsios
Director, Basic and Translational Research Track

Dr. Jessica Bon
LEAD Associate Program Director for Research,
LEAD Executive Committee

Leadership and Discovery Program (LEAD)

The LEAD program was implemented in 2012 in response to residents requesting the development of a structured curriculum to teach them the skills needed to design and implement their own academic projects. LEAD is a formalized, three-year program to develop residents’ research abilities and critical appraisal skills, and to support self-directed scholarship in a wide variety of scholarly concentrations. Residents are expected, by the end of their third year of training, to present their project at a local, regional, or national meeting and, if possible, publish it in a peer-reviewed journal.

Concentrations and Expectations for LEAD Program

To maximize flexibility in meeting our trainees’ career needs and interests, residents are encouraged to identify a project within one of five different LEAD Concentrations: basic or clinical research, quality improvement, medical education, and medical humanities. Each Concentration has one or more dedicated faculty leaders who can help residents identify suitable projects and mentors. There is also  a clear set of programmatic expectations to be met during the three years of residency training.

Resident Milestones for the LEAD Program

YEARMILESTONES
PGY 1

  • Early September: Noon Conference – Introduction to LEAD and Finding a Mentor

  • December – LEAD Speed Dating: Meet the Mentors

  • November-April – Meet with Research Point People and/or potential faculty mentors

  • March – Identify a Concentration (Basic Science, Clinical/Translational, Med-Ed, QI, Humanities)

  • June – Confirm a Mentor and Project Title

  • September of PGY-2 Year – Submit Project Proposal on Medhub; this will include brief background, hypotheses, methods and expected production (abstract, manuscript, etc.)

PGY 2

  • Obtain IRB approval (if needed)

  • Begin working on project and meet regularly with your mentor(s)

  • GOAL: Present initial findings at Department of Medicine research day and/or regional or national conferences

PGY 3

  • Continue regular project meetings with mentor(s)

  • GOAL: Presentation at regional or national conferences

  • Ultimate Goal: Write manuscript and submit for publication in peer-reviewed journal

Concentrations and Programmatic Expectations for the LEAD Program

Basic or Clinical Research (Jessica Bon and Jessica Merlin)
  • It will be essential to identify one or more clearly defined and testable research hypotheses, answerable study questions, and/or achievable study aims.
  • Complete the LEAD project proposal and on-line IRB application, where applicable.
  • Acceptable research projects include bench research, analyses based on retrospective or prospective cohort studies, analyses of existing clinical or administrative data, and formal systematic reviews/meta-analyses of published studies.
  • Projects requiring original data collection are acceptable, if deemed feasible and supported by the mentor.
  • Unacceptable projects include clinical case reports, case series, or narrative review articles of a clinical topic
Quality Improvement (Allison DeKosky)
*DISCLAIMER* Prior to completing any Quality Improvement projects involving residents, you need prior approval from Dr. Jen Corbelli; Prior to completing any Quality Improvement projects involving medical students, you need prior approval from the UPSOM

 

  • It will be essential to identify a problem with a clinical health care process, health outcome, or system-level issue that impacts patient quality of care. All projects must be considered important at an institutional level (i.e., UPMC).
  • Complete the LEAD project proposal that identifies the problem and describes a plan for an intervention coupled with an assessment of clearly defined outcome measures.
  • Examples include initiatives to improve patient medication compliance, improve performance of evidence-based processes of care, or optimize patient transitions in care.
  • *Important* For projects involving residents as subjects, you must also send your proposal to either Dr. Anna Donovan (Inpatient Committee) or Dr. Tanya Nikiforova (Ambulatory Committee). The appropriate committee must approve the proposal before it can be implemented.
  • All QI projects MUST be reviewed and approved by Dr. Gary Fisher using an institutional perspective of its importance and the institutional resources required to complete the project.
Medical Education (Anna Donovan)

**DISCLAIMER** Prior to completing any Med-Ed projects involving residents, you need prior approval from Dr. Jen Corbelli; Prior to completing any Med-Ed projects involving medical students, you need prior approval from the UPSOM

  • Medical education projects typically include curriculum development and evaluation, hypothesis-driven research, or qualitative research.
  • Bring your idea to Dr. Donovan to ensure it is feasible and acceptable, and to ensure you have appropriate mentorship for the project, after approval –> Complete LEAD project proposal
  • *Important* For projects involving residents as subjects, you must also send proposal to either Dr. Anna Donovan (Inpatient Committee) or Dr. Tanya Nikiforova (Ambulatory Committee). The appropriate committee must approve the proposal before it can be implemented.
  • Meet with the designated faculty committee member to finalize details and obtain curricular time, permission to email residents, etc.
  • Obtain IRB approval
  • Examples include the development and implementation of an online EKG curriculum for residents (curriculum development); a survey of under-represented minority residents that explores factors related to choice of post-residency training plans (hypothesis-driven); and identification of facilitators and barriers to incorporating cost of care into resident decision making using structured interviews (qualitative).

 FUNDING FOR MEDICAL EDUCATION PROJECTS:

  • For projects with DGIM mentor, these GIM Med Ed fellowship funding opportunities are also available to residents with rigorous projects: DGIM Fellowship Funding
Medical Humanities (Robert Arnold and Julie Childers)
  • It is essential to identify an ethical issue that exists in the practice of medicine or a noteworthy creative idea, viewpoint, or perspective of general importance to the practice of medicine.
  • Complete LEAD project proposal describing the ethical issue or concept, and outline the approaches used to understand the issue and how a written piece will be organized.
  • All medical ethics and humanities projects will be reviewed and approved by Drs. Julie Childers or Bob Arnold.

Considerations in Choosing a Research (LEAD) Project and Mentor

  • Meet with Research Point People to discuss your interests in more detail.  This will help match you with the perfect mentor in the Department.
  • Feel free to reach out to any mentor to discuss potential projects in more detail
*Questions to consider before meeting with Research Point People or potential Mentors*

1. What type of research interest:

  • Clinical/Translational
  • Basic Science
  • Quality Improvement
  • Medical Education

2. Area of interest (Click here for potential mentors and their areas of interest):

  • Subspecialty (Cards, ID, Pulm/CCM, etc.)
  • Topic within specialty (Pulm HTN, Heart Failure, HIV, etc.)

3. What are your main Goals for your residency research?

  • Publications
  • Long term project spanning years
  • Abstract and Poster presentation
  • Learning basic science laboratory techniques
  • All of the Above

4.  Which statement is most true for you?

  • I need publications for my fellowship application (**NOTE: This is a legitimate reason to do some research. If  you are applying into Cards, GI or Heme/Onc,  having one or two  abstracts/publications will be important.)
  • I plan to have a career in academics.
  • I plan to have a physician-scientist career (What ratio of clinical/research do you see for yourself? e.g. 20/80)
  • I just want to explore a new area of research, but I am not making any lifetime commitments. (Residency is the perfect time for this!!)
  • I have a cool idea, and I want to make it my life’s work.

5.  Prior experience – This will help determine the type of mentor recommended (e.g. hands-on or hands-off, PhD, MD/DO, Fellow, etc.)

  • Prior authorship (Are you familiar with publication process?)
  • If experienced, specifically what type of research did you do (basic, clinical, etc.)?
  • Special skills (e.g., adegree in statistics, electron microscopy proficient, invented PCR, discovered penicillin)

For additional information about the LEAD program, please contact:

Dr. Jessica Merlin
LEAD Program Director

Dr. Alison Morris
LEAD Program Associate Director

Dr. Jessica Bon
LEAD Associate Program Director for Research,
LEAD Executive Committee