- Program Director, Medical Residency Program
- Program Director, Medical Education Clerkship
- Professor, Radiation Oncology
Residents in good standing will have a 10.5-month research rotation that will generally be in the third year of training.
Educational Rationale: The intent of the research rotation is to stimulate residents toward a career in academic radiation oncology. Research projects may be predominantly basic science in cancer biology or radiation physics, translational, or clinical. The research project needs to occupy the vast majority of the resident’s time during the research rotation. Projects may be done primarily in the Jefferson Department of Radiation Oncology or elsewhere at Thomas Jefferson University. Ideally the major activity during the research rotation is a substantial project requiring the full 10.5 months of investigation. As such, residents should begin to think about their research plans early in their training. A critical part of this is identifying a research mentor who will assist the resident in developing a research proposal and who will support any costs of the research.
Departmental funds may be available to assist with the cost of the research project. By March 1 prior to beginning the research rotation, residents must submit a research proposal describing their plans for the 10.5 months to the Residency Program Coordinator and Residency Program Director.
- Each project should have a research plan (with specific aims, background and significance, preliminary results if any, and research design and methods), assurances from all relevant oversight committees (i.e., cancer research review committee, IRB, radiation safety committee, animal studies committee, etc.), and resources.
- The project should be feasible within the limited time available, and the resident should demonstrate a good understanding of the methodology. Basic science projects should primarily rely on techniques that are well developed rather than be critically dependent on untested methodology.
- The resident must identify a research mentor who must sign a Research Mentor Agreement stating that they are aware of the resident’s research plan and are willing to support it. This mentor will perform an evaluation of the resident’s research rotation that will be part of the resident’s permanent file. Quarterly evaluations by the faculty mentor and biannual project updates by the resident are also required.
- The Department of Radiation Oncology Clinical Competency Committee will review and vote on the proposal. Their primary duty is to assure that the research is well designed and achievable in the allotted time span. It must be emphasized that the research rotation is not the time to seek approval from any necessary university oversight committee(s). The process of approval may take several months and should be completed (if necessary for the research project) before the research rotation begins.
- It must also be emphasized that the success of the research project should not be contingent upon the resident receiving a grant, as these are inherently difficult for residents to obtain. Essentially the resident is providing a funded time for the project while the mentor provides any funds or other substantial resources for the project.
- It is anticipated that some residents may undertake a clinical or translational research project that is part of a clinical trial as well as other small research projects to occupy their time during the 10.5-month research rotation. These residents are advised that the above requirement for documentation applies to each project.
For evaluation purposes, all faculty mentors involved must complete a final evaluation form. Residents who fail to submit a research proposal or who submit an inadequate proposal may be assigned to Clinical Radiation Oncology, Radiation Physics, Diagnostic Radiology, or Medical Oncology rotations. Although the department strongly believes in the importance of clinically oriented, retrospective, chart-based projects, these should be done routinely during the entire four years of residency training. For clinical studies, the resident must obtain permission from the staff radiation oncologist responsible for the patients to be investigated. The trainee should also have a radiation oncologist as a mentor on the study, to maximize the learning experience and to ensure effective coordination of research efforts. In the past, such endeavors by the residents have resulted in publications, including abstracts accepted for national and international meetings.
Following the research rotation, the resident must submit either a manuscript for publication or a summary of the activities and results of the project (within three months of completion of the rotation). In addition, each resident will submit a one-half to one-page-long progress report to the Residency Program Coordinator quarterly during the rotation. This report should very briefly discuss the progress made toward completing the proposed work. The resident will prepare a 50-minute presentation on the topic of their research, to be given between nine to eleven months from project’s initiation. This may be done in lieu of the resident’s didactic and will likely serve as a template for this resident’s future presentation to be given during job interviews. The research mentor should be invited to attend the presentation. During the research rotation occurring at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, residents are required to attend Quality Assurance conferences as well as didactic lectures, journal clubs, volume reviews, and medical physics course and radiobiology course lectures. If laboratory meetings or research experiments interfere with these conferences, the Residency Program Coordinator needs to be notified.
Meetings & Conferences
Residents are encouraged to submit oral and poster presentations to major scientific meetings and symposia. Typically, the department will fund travel to attend most conferences where the resident presents as the first author. Additionally, all PGY-4 and PGY-5 residents have the opportunity to attend the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) annual meeting.