Research is an important component of the vascular neurology fellowship program. The fellowship incorporates numerous opportunities for research to supplement the clinical training received throughout the year. Fellows will be trained to think critically about research design and to develop a sophisticated thought process about important stroke topics. Exposure to research also allows the fellow to better appraise stroke literature as it applies to clinical practice. This type of critical thinking creates a solid foundation for our fellows to practice confidently in both academic and community settings.
UCSD is also heavily involved as a major Regional Coordinating Center (RCC) within the NIH-sponsored StrokeNet network. Being a StrokeNet RCC is critical to our fellows' education because our fellows will participate firsthand in numerous cutting-edge stroke research trials, and they will have the amazing opportunity to network and learn from major stroke researchers around the country.
We understand that all fellowship applicants come from various backgrounds of residency training. Our research curriculum does not require that you must have substantial publications prior to your arrival, but it does require each fellow to have an open mind and the enthusiasm to learn about and experience some of the benefits of research.
Fellows are required to carry out an independent research project to submit at least one abstract to the International Stroke Conference (ISC) and submit at least one manuscript during their training. Research projects can range from quality improvement and education to developing pilot studies to gather data on eventual grant preparations (depending on the fellow's career goals). This research requirement is one of many features of the fellowship that make our fellows well-rounded physicians upon graduating.
Prior to the fellowship start date, each fellow will be assigned (by the fellowship program director) a UCSD stroke faculty research mentor to begin designing a research project that will be submitted as an abstract to the International Stroke Conference (deadline is typically in August, at the beginning of the academic year). The research mentor will guide the fellow on research design, data collection, IRB logistics, and biostatistics to ensure timely completion of the abstract by the ISC deadline. After the abstract submission, the fellow will decide about developing a long-term project(s) that is in-line with their career goals and that will carry them through their fellowship year. All faculty mentors will be available to assist each fellow throughout the year.
Fellows are required to attend UCSD stroke center research meetings that encourage fellows to develop and conduct their own research projects, learn effective ways to present research data, and learn the nuances of clinical trial enrollment. Built-in to the fellowship curriculum are the following important research-oriented didactics:
The "Weekly Research Team Meeting" aims to discuss ongoing national and local stroke clinical trials conducted within the UCSD Stroke Center. Updates to StrokeNet clinical trials and the research logistics of the UCSD stroke center will be reviewed. Fellows will specifically learn about regulations of ongoing clinical trials and will be critiqued on their approach to clinical trial enrollments as they learn about good clinical practice relating to stroke research.
The "Monthly Research/Lab Meeting" provides each fellow the opportunity to present and develop their ongoing research that relates to vascular neurology. This meeting is designed to provide constructive feedback on fellow research projects, ensure that appropriate milestones are met to complete their projects, develop new ideas for research, and prepare for the annual International Stroke Conference as well as other relevant stroke conferences.
The "Statistics for the Stroke Clinician" Series is a set of lectures designed to provide foundational knowledge on biostatistics relating to stroke clinical trial design. Fellows will learn how to interpret statistical language used in the stroke literature and will apply the principles of biostatistics to their own research projects and methodologies.
Clinical Trial Enrollment
Fellows and faculty are responsible for surveilling potential clinical trial enrollments within the inpatient and outpatient settings for all ongoing UCSD stroke center clinical trials. One of the purposes of clinical trial enrollment is for our fellows to gain a comprehensive understanding about the conduct of local and nationally led research. Upon completion of fellowship training, fellows will have obtained knowledge in good clinical practice guidelines to carry out clinical research, expertise in efficient and ethical data collection, an understanding of the limitations of clinical trial design, and will appreciate the nuances of trying to apply clinical research protocols to future clinical practice.