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T32: Training Program in Lung Science

Our Mission

The long-term goal of the Northwestern University Lung Sciences Training Program (NULSTP) is to encourage bright, enthusiastic, well-trained, academically oriented MDs and PhDs to pursue a career in pulmonary biology investigation. The trainees supported by our training grant focus their research efforts on the cellular and molecular pathophysiology of lung disease and the translation of these findings to the bedside. Trainees are provided with the scientific environment, didactic training, and career development mentorship required to initiate a successful career in research. The training fosters an environment for the acquisition of scientific skills, collaborative interactions, and critical thinking required to pursue careers in pulmonary and critical care investigation.

The Training Program in Lung Science is now in its second decade of successfully supporting and training a new generation of pre- and postdoctoral fellows who will focus their research efforts on lung science. Of the predoctoral candidates supported by the award since 2004, 77% remain in academia, and 94% are involved research-intensive or research-related careers or training. Similarly, of the postdoctoral fellows supported by the award since 2004, 83% remain in academia, and 93% remain in research-intensive or research-related careers. This success is attributable to the talented trainees we are fortunate to recruit to our program and the diverse, accomplished, and highly collaborative group of mentors with whom they train.

 Program Eligibility and Application Process

We are currently accepting applications for the Training Program in Lung Science for predoctoral and postdoctoral positions. To apply, please send a recommendation letter from your mentor, your CV, and a short cover letter describing your research activities and interest to pulmonary@northwestern.edu with the subject line: Training Program Applicant. The deadline to apply is six months prior to when you would like funding to begin.

Program Eligibility

All candidates for the Northwestern University Lung Sciences Training Program must meet NRSA citizenship and support requirements:

  • Citizenship: Any individual to be trained must be a citizen or noncitizen national of the United States or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence at the time of appointment. 
  • NRSA Support: No individual trainee may receive more than 5 years of aggregate Kirschstein-NRSA support at the predoctoral level and 3 years of aggregate Kirschstein-NRSA support at the postdoctoral level, including any combination of support from Kirschstein-NRSA institutional research training grants and individual fellowships.

For more information on NRSA eligibility requirements, see the NIH Grants Policy Statement on Kirschstein-NRSA grants.

Predoctoral Applicant Eligibility

The Northwestern University Lung Sciences Training Program has funding to support three predoctoral trainees. Predoctoral trainees from the following programs are eligible to apply:

  • Driskoll Graduate Program (DGP)
  • Interdepartmental Biological Sciences Program (IBiS)
  • Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)
  • Biomedical Engineering Program (BME)
  • Material Science and Engineering Program (MSE)

All predoctoral applicants should have completed their rotations and required coursework and passed their qualifying examinations.

Postdoctoral Applicant Eligibility

The Northwestern University Lung Sciences Training Program has funding to support five postdoctoral trainees. Applicants should be recent PhD postdoctoral fellows with at least one year of training or MD physicians in our fellowship program with at least two years of training in clinical pulmonary and critical care medicine, who aspire to pursue an academic career and have conducted research with one of the mentors of the NULSTP.

Application Process and Deadlines

We are currently accepting applications for the Training Program in Lung Science for predoctoral and postdoctoral positions. To apply, please send a recommendation letter from your mentor, your CV, and a short cover letter describing your research activities and interest to pulmonary@northwestern.edu with the subject line: Training Program Applicant. The deadline to apply is six months prior to when you would like funding to begin.

 Current NULSTP Trainees

Meet current trainees and learn more about their research projects. All trainee publications may be viewed on PubMed.

 

Predoctoral Scholars

 

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Kishore Anekalla

Mentors: Karen M. Ridge, PhD

Kishore Anekalla's research focuses on understanding how systemic inflammation due to viral pneumonia affects the cardiopulmonary system and causes cardiovascular complications in the elderly. Pro-inflammatory monocyte-derived alveolar macrophages (MoAMs) are the major effector cells in host defense against respiratory infections and play a critical role in the pathobiology of viral pneumonia. Anekalla hypothesizes that the aging lung microenvironment triggers an increased pro-inflammatory response in MoAMs, leading to exacerbated systemic inflammation and impaired cardiac function during pneumonia. To test this hypothesis, under the mentorship of Karen M. Ridge, PhD, he is performing time-course RNA sequencing on the flow cytometry–sorted population of MoAMs from young and aged mice following influenza A virus infection.

Selected Publications:

 

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McKenzie Fulcer

Mentor: Karen M. Ridge, PhD

McKenzie Fulcer’s research focuses on mechanisms of lung repair and recovery following viral infection. Influenza A virus infection damages type II alveolar epithelial (AT2) cells, leading to accumulation of mitochondrial DNA and subsequent activation of the cGAS-STING pathway to induce type I interferons and inflammatory cytokines. It is known that overactivation of this pathway leads to inflammatory diseases and that patients who develop idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis show increased levels cGAS-STING activation. However, the role played by AT2 cells in overactivation of the innate immune response after viral clearance and its impacts on alveolar repair is unclear. To shed more light on this pathway, in the laboratory of Karen M. Ridge, PhD, Fulcer is investigating cGAS-STING activation and immune response of AT2 cells following viral infection and clearance.

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Selected Publications: 

 

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Alec Koss

Mentor: Navdeep S. Chandel, PhD

Alec Koss’s research interests are centered on mitochondrial function as a key regulator of skeletal muscle physiology and pathology. Crosstalk between the skeletal muscle and immune systems has been described in various physiological processes, ranging from influenza virus induction of skeletal muscle wasting to resident macrophage necessity for skeletal muscle repair following injury. However, further investigation is required to fully understand the implications of this crosstalk, especially in the context of exercise and states involving skeletal muscle inflammation. These processes share a common phenotype of altered metabolism relative to the basal state. To study the metabolic mechanisms underlying human disease and aging, Koss has joined the laboratory of Navdeep S. Chandel, PhD.

Selected Publications:

 

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Tatiana Ortiz Serrano

Mentor: Karen M. Ridge, PhD

Tatiana Ortiz Serrano’s research explores modulation of the cellular immune response to influenza A virus (IAV) infection by the intermediate filament protein vimentin. Preliminary data suggest vimentin-null mice are protected from IAV-induced lung injury without compromising recruitment of monocyte-derived alveolar macrophages (MoAMs), viral replication, or viral clearance; and that vimentin-null MoAMs exhibit a dampened inflammatory response and enhanced pro-repair function. Ortiz Serrano hypothesizes that modulation of vimentin expression in MoAMs alters their pro-inflammatory phenotype, promoting lung repair after viral pneumonia. To test this hypothesis, in the laboratory of Karen M. Ridge, PhD, she will implement a MoAM-specific genetic lineage tracing system and inducible vimentin deletion strategy in a murine model of IAV pneumonia.

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Selected Publications: 

 

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Jeanne Quinn

Mentor: Cara J. Gottardi, PhD

Jeanne Quinn is exploring the maintenance of epithelial barriers and how adhesion is regulated during morphogenetically challenging states. Phosphorylation of α-catenin, a member of the primary cell-cell adhesion complex, promotes adhesive strength and is required in fly development. Quinn hypothesizes that phosphorylation of α-catenin is crucial for controlling cell-cell adhesion during tensile events such as mitosis to maintain barrier function during epithelial tissue development and maintenance. She aims to understand the upstream signals that drive differential phosphorylation of α -catenin throughout the cell cycle, as well as downstream consequences for junction formation and epithelial barrier function, by studying α-catenin phospho-form localization, coupling to the cytoskeleton, and related conformational changes in the laboratory of Cara J. Gottardi, PhD.

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Selected Publications: 

  • Torres Acosta et al., The impact of underrepresented minority or marginalized identity status on the training outcomes of MD-PhD students, 2023, in review.

 

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Carla Patricia Reyes Flores

Mentor: Benjamin D. Singer, MD

DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) and UHRF1, a DNMT adapter protein, mediate and maintain DNA methylation patterns in regulatory T cells (Tregs). Transient loss of DNMT activity or UHRF1 enhances the reparative phenotype of Tregs by increasing generation of the epithelial growth factor ligand AREG. Carla Patricia Reyes Flores hypothesizes that UHRF1 represses Treg reparative function and that Tregs require AREG to exert their reparative function during recovery from influenza in aged hosts. To test this hypothesis, in the laboratory of Benjamin D. Singer, MD, she is determining whether transient genetic deletion of the Uhrf1 gene in aged Tregs during recovery from influenza pneumonia is sufficient to restore pro-repair transcriptional and functional programs, and whether Treg-derived AREG is necessary for Treg reparative function in aged mice.

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Selected Publications: 

 

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Manuel A. Torres Acosta

Mentor: Benjamin D. Singer, MD

Manuel A. Torres Acosta’s research interests center on elucidating immunological mechanisms of human disease. In the laboratory of Benjamin D. Singer, MD, he studies the physiology and metabolism of regulatory T cells (Tregs) and their role in lung injury resolution. Specifically, Torres Acosta aims to elucidate how AMPK, the master regulator of catabolic cellular metabolism, facilitates the metabolic adaptation of Tregs in settings of microenvironmental stress, mainly the tumor microenvironment and the lung during viral pneumonia. He has found that AMPK negatively regulates DNMT1 to upregulate the expression of PGC-1α and thereby potentiate mitochondrial metabolism in Tregs. He is now leveraging mouse models of cancer and viral pneumonia to determine whether this AMPK-DNMT1-PGC-1α axis is necessary for Treg function in disease microenvironments.

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Selected Publications: 

 

Postdoctoral Scholars

 

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Joseph Bailey, MD

Mentor: Ravi Kalhan, MD, MS

Joseph Bailey, MD, has worked with Jacob I. Sznajder, MD, to develop a research program within the Northwestern Comprehensive COVID-19 Center to characterize post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 (PASC) by correlating improved imaging results with measurements of monocyte-derived alveolar macrophages in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. In order to understand the true incidence of PASC, its risk factors, and its impact on the lives patients, Bailey has worked with Ravi Kalhan, MD, MS, to develop the COVID-19 Clinical Recovery Cohort, a low-touch electronic survey study of all COVID-19 survivors within the Northwestern Medicine system. This study seeks to better understand the prevalence, characteristics, and risk factors for PASC and the long-term financial, psychosocial, and physical recovery of COVID-19 patients throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. 

Selected Publications: 

 

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Thaddeus Cybulski, MD, PhD

Mentors: Manu Jain, MD, and Alexander V. Misharin, MD, PhD

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a progressive, mutlisystem genetic disease affecting ~40,000 people in the United States. Despite CF being a largely monogenetic condition caused by mutations in the CFTR gene, there is high variability in clinical trajectories, from early morbidity and mortality to relatively mild disease and survival into old age. Thaddius Cybulski, MD, PhD, is interested in using computational techniques to understand factors that lead to these highly variable clinical trajectories. His current work with Manu Jain, MD, and Alexander V. Misharin, MD, PhD, is focused on characterizing changes in minimally invasive samples of nasal epithelium from people with CF using single-cell transcriptomics. Cybulski is also interested in using machine learning techniques and clinical/electronic health record data to identify predictors of clinical trajectories in CF.

Selected Publications: 

 

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Catherine A. Gao, MD

Mentor: Richard G. Wunderink, MD

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented numerous challenges but also opportunities to address fundamental questions in the care of critically ill patients with respiratory failure from pneumonia. As the amount of electronic medical record data grows, it provides endless opportunities for analysis, but requires unique expertise to utilize. Catherine A. Gao, MD, is using machine learning mechanisms to understand the prolonged intensive care unit stay of patients with SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia. Currently, Gao is working with Richard G. Wunderink, MD, to elucidate the contribution of unresolving ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) to unfavorable outcomes by using unsupervised clustering techniques to define clinical states on a patient-day basis.

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Selected Publications:

 

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Alexandra McQuattie Hanrahan, MD

Mentor: Douglas E. Vaughan, MD

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds it is important to study lung function during aging. Advanced age is the most important risk factor for severe lung disease. Strategies targeting aging are key to preserve lung function. Alexandra Hanrahan, MD, is interested in aging research and under the mentorship of Douglas E. Vaughan, MD, is studying the effect of PAI-1 haploinsufficiency on pulmonary structure and function. It has been documented in the literature that dysregulated PAI-1 is a critical contributor in stress-induced murine lung aging pathologies including sustained inflammation, senescence, emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis, and vascular thrombosis. She plans to investigate PAI-1 deficiency and/or pharmacological inhibition of PAI-1 in preventing stress-induced lung aging pathologies.

Selected Publications: 

 

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Gabrielle Liu, MD

Mentor: Ravi Kalhan, MD, MS

Gabrielle Liu, MD, performs research under the guidance of her mentor Ravi Kahlan, MD, MS, who leads the CARDIA Lung Study at Northwestern Medicine. Liu is reviewing the chest computed tomography scans of healthy participants obtained at years 25 and 35 after enrollment to evaluate for interstitial lung abnormalities (ILA) and other evidence of lung fibrosis. She will then use these data to identify early predictors of ILA and better understand its natural progression and the clinical significance of these early predictors. Liu will also analyze data from the Lung Health Cohort, another study led by Kalhan at Northwestern Medicine and the first longitudinal cohort of healthy 25–35-year-olds in the United States specifically designed to study ideal respiratory health and identify risk factors and biomarkers associated with transitions to chronic lung disease.

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Selected Publications: 

 

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Taylor Poor, MD, PhD

Mentor: Navdeep S. Chandel, PhD

Taylor Poor, MD, PhD, analyzed published single-cell RNA sequencing data from patients with fibrotic lung disease and found epithelial cells expressed less mitochondrial pyruvate carrier (MPC) compared with healthy controls. Poor then observed genetic deletion of MPC in lung epithelial cells decreases survival and worsens lung fibrosis in a mouse model of acute lung injury (ALI). In addition, MPC elimination in epithelial cells results in altered levels of metabolite L-2-HG. Poor hypothesizes alveolar type 2 (AT2) cells require mitochondrial pyruvate metabolism to promote healthy repair after ALI through regulation of the integrated stress response (ISR) and intracellular L-2-HG levels. In the laboratory of Navdeep S. Chandel, PhD, Poor will determine whether mitochondrial pyruvate metabolism regulates lung recovery after ALI through pathological activation of the ISR and dysregulated L-2-HG levels.

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Selected Publications: 

 

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Andrew D. Prigge, MD

Mentors: Karen M. Ridge, PhD, and Bria Coates, MD

Viral pneumonia disproportionately affects young children and can progress to life-threatening disease. Observations suggest an inadequate T cell response contributes to impaired recovery relative to adults. Andrew Prigge, MD, is determining the role of regulatory T cells (Tregs) during recovery from viral pneumonia in children using a juvenile mouse model developed in the laboratory of Karen M. Ridge, PhD. In parallel, Prigge collaborates with Bria Coates, MD, to examine the nasal transcriptional response to viral infection in children. They recently demonstrated age-related differences in expression of genes involved in T cell receptor signaling in children and adults with asymptomatic to mild SARS-CoV-2 infection. They also found an association between cilia-related gene expression and clinical outcomes in children with critical respiratory syncytial virus bronchiolitis.

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Selected Publications: 

 

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Zachary Sebo, PhD

Mentor: Navdeep S. Chandel, PhD

Ataxia-telangiectasia (AT) is a premature aging disorder that dramatically increases the risk of chronic lung disease, respiratory infections, and cancer. Most individuals with AT die of one of these conditions by age 30. The disease is caused by mutations in the ATM gene, which encodes a bifunctional protein that responds to DNA damage and oxidative stress by distinct mechanisms. It is unclear which AT-related pathologies are due to impaired DNA damage response and which are due to impaired oxidative stress response. In the laboratory of Navdeep S. Chandel, PhD, Zachary Sebo, PhD, is generating a new mouse model of AT that allows for the uncoupling of DNA damage and oxidative stress responses by ATM in a tissue-specific manner, to determine how lung disease manifests in AT.

Selected Publications: 

 Participating Mentors

 
Luisa Iruela-Arispe, PhD

Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology

Research Interest: VEGF and Notch signaling in altering endothelial barrier function; mechanisms driving these pathways and their effect on vascular resilience during stress, including aging and COVID-19

Training Role: Preceptor

 

Ankit Bharat, MBBS

Professor of Surgery (Thoracic Surgery)

Research Interest: Lung preservation, transplant immunology, and airway biology; molecular mechanisms used by nonclassical monocytes retained in the donor lung in mediating primary graft dysfunction

Training Role: Preceptor

 

Rosemary Braun, PhD, MPH

Associate Professor of Molecular Biosciences

Research Interest: Computational biology; development of methods for integrative, systems-level analysis of high-dimensional *omic “big” data, and the collaborative application of these methods to investigate the genomic causes of disease

Training Role: Preceptor

 

G. R. Scott Budinger, MD

Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary and Critical Care)

Research Interest: Acute respiratory failure, aging, and viral pneumonia; mechanisms driving changes in lung proteostasis resulting in altered innate immune response in alveolar macrophages during injury and repair

Training Role: Associate Program Director of Recruitment, Career Development, and Retention; Preceptor

 

Mercedes Carnethon, PhD

Professor of Preventative Medicine (Epidemiology)

Research Interest: Cardiovascular disease epidemiology

Training Role: Preceptor

 

Navdeep S. Chandel, PhD

Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary and Critical Care)

Research Interest: Mitochondria as signaling organelles

Training Role: Preceptor

 

Bria Marielle Coates, MD

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics (Critical Care)

Research Interest: Differences in the inflammatory response to viral respiratory infections in children and adults

Training Role: Preceptor

 

Laura Dada, PhD

Research Associate Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary and Critical Care)

Research Interest: Acute lung injury, alveolar epithelial cell biology, effect of hypoxia and hypercapnia on lung function, and ubiquitination in lung disease

Training Role: Preceptor

 

Cara J. Gottardi, PhD

Associate Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary and Critical Care)

Research Interest: Molecular mechanisms of cell-cell adhesion regulation required for normal tissue morphogenesis; how alterations in cell adhesion complexes drive disease states such as cancer, fibrosis, and asthma

Training Role: Preceptor

 

SeungHye Han, MD, MPH

Assistant Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary and Critical Care)

Research Interest: Molecular mechanisms of mitochondrial metabolism and cellular metabolism that affect lung epithelial stem cell function and fate, in the context of lung development and lung repair after injury

Training Role: Preceptor In-Training

 

Alan R. Hauser, MD, PhD

Professor of Microbiology-Immunology

Research Interest: Pathogenesis of healthcare-associated bacterial pathogens

Training Role: Preceptor

 

Curt Horvath, PhD

Professor of Molecular Biosciences

Research Interest: Signal transduction and gene expression in mammalian cells

Training Role: Preceptor

 

Judd F. Hultquist, PhD

Assistant Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases)

Research Interest: Development and adaptation of high-throughput, quantitative, systems-based approaches for use in primary models of disease to better understand the host-pathogen relationship

Training Role: Preceptor

 

Manu Jain, MD

Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary and Critical Care)

Research Interest: Respiratory diseases, cytokines, lungs and breathing problems—ARDS, sepsis, and cystic fibrosis—bacterial genotypic and phenotypic diversity, and mechanisms of fibrosis in lung disease

Training Role: Preceptor

 

Ravi Kalhan, MD, MS

Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary and Critical Care)

Research Interest: Asthma, COPD, and respiratory epidemiology; understanding impaired respiratory health as an intermediate phenotype that precedes chronic lung disease

Training Role: Associate Program Director of Curriculum Development and Evaluation, Preceptor

 

Alexander V. Misharin, MD, PhD

Associate Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary and Critical Care)

Research Interest: Macrophage biology in the context of lung diseases

Training Role: Preceptor

 

Luisa Morales-Nebreda, MD

Assistant Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary and Critical Care)

Research Interest: Intercellular signaling pathways between immune cell subsets and the injured alveolar endothelium that promote tissue repair

Training Role: Preceptor In-Training

 

Guillermo Oliver, PhD

Professor of Medicine (Nephrology and Hypertension)

Research Interest: Genetics of normal and pathological organogenesis in lymphatic vasculature

Training Role: Preceptor 

 

Chiagozie I. Pickens, MD

Assistant Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary and Critical Care)

Research Interest: To validate and improve the diagnosis and management of severe pneumonia in critically ill patients

Training Role: Preceptor In-Training

 

Karen M. Ridge, PhD

Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary and Critical Care)

Research Interest: Immunologic mechanisms that modify cellular responses in the lung that promote inflammation and contribute to lung tissue damage and aberrant remodeling

Training Role: Program Director/Principal Investigator, Preceptor

 

Evan Scott, PhD

Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Research Interest: Unique immunoengineering and biomaterials-based strategies for the treatment and basic understanding of cancer, vaccination, immune dysregulation, and heart disease

Training Role: Preceptor

 

Ali Shilatifard, PhD

Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics

Research Interest: Molecular mechanisms underlying leukemogenesis and potential targets for therapy through detailed studies of proteins and protein complexes that regulate chromatin modifications, transcription initiation, and transcription elongation

Training Role: Preceptor

 

Benjamin D. Singer, MD

Associate Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary and Critical Care)

Research Interest: DNA methylation as a determinant of T cell function in the injured lung

Training Role: Preceptor 

 

Peter H. Sporn, MD

Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary and Critical Care)

Research Interest: Airway inflammation and remodeling; mechanical stress and airway remodeling; hypercapnia and innate immunity in the lung

Training Role: Preceptor

 

Justin B. Starren, MD, PhD, FACMI

Professor of Preventative Medicine (Health and Biomedical Informatics)

Research Interest: Biomedical informatics, health informatics, data science, precision medicine, computational biology, information systems, internet intervention, medical informatics, and postgraduate medical education

Training Role: Preceptor

 

Thomas Stoeger, PhD

Postdoctoral Scholar (Assistant Professor in 2023)

Research Interest: Novel research directions for understanding and ultimately mitigating human aging and lung disease associated with aging

Training Role: Preceptor In-Training

 

Jacob I. Sznajder, MD

Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary and Critical Care)

Research Interest: Acute respiratory failure, alveolar epithelial cell biology, and effect of hypoxia and hypercapnia on lung and muscle function; proteostasis and ubiquitination in lung disease

Training Role: Program Director/Principal Investigator, Preceptor

 

Hiam Abdala-Valencia, PhD

Associate Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary and Critical Care)

Research Interest: Application of next-generation sequencing technology and integrative “wet” lab approaches to basic and translational research of lung diseases

Training Role: Preceptor

 

Douglas E. Vaughan, MD

Professor of Medicine (Cardiology)

Research Interest: Role of the plasminogen activation system in tissue repair, fibrosis, and thrombosis

Training Role: Preceptor

 

Deborah Winter, PhD

Assistant Professor of Medicine (Rheumatology)

Research Interest: Mapping the gene regulatory networks of immune cells in health and disease, particularly macrophages in sarcoidosis

Training Role: Preceptor 

 

Richard G. Wunderink, MD

Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary and Critical Care)

Research Interest: Diagnosis, pathogenesis, epidemiology, treatment, and prevention of infections in the critically ill, especially community-acquired pneumonia and hospital-acquired pneumonia; quality improvement in the ICU; septic shock; acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)

Training Role: Preceptor

 T32 Steering Committee

 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The Department of Medicine at Northwestern University seeks to attract inquisitive, motivated trainees and is committed to providing them with every opportunity for success. The greatest challenges facing the medical field are complex and addressing them requires a diverse body of physicians and researchers who can work collaboratively. We are committed to and inspired by a diverse and inclusive work environment that allows each trainee to achieve their goals. Khalilah Gates, MD, serves as the Diversity and Inclusion Committee Chair for the Training Program in Lung Science.

For more information about Northwestern’s commitment to diversity, please see the following resources:

 Program Expectations and FAQ

Each trainee is expected to:

  • Have their research results accepted for publication.
  • Attend all Pulmonary Research In Progress conferences.
  • Present their research at our Lung Symposium.
  • Complete the Responsible Conduct of Research course.
  • Submit an abstract to and attend a national or international conference related to their research.
  • Create an Individual Development Plan with their mentor which will be reviewed annually.

The training grant provides:

  • Stipend support for the development of physician, predoctoral, and postdoctoral research scientists.
  • Mentorship by senior investigators.
  • The laboratory environment, training, and supervision required for the development of independent investigators.
  • Educational resources in the form of didactic courses, invited speakers, and collaborative interactions that will foster the skills required for an independent research career.
  • Administrative structure that will facilitate the trainee’s acquisition of protected time from activities not directly related to research.

What is a payback obligation and how do I know if I incur one?
Any postdoctoral NRSA trainee or fellow incurs a payback obligation during their first year of support. Predoctoral NRSA trainees do not incur a payback obligation. Payback means that you will perform qualified research or teaching activities for a length of time equal to the period of NRSA support you received. Receiving 12 months of postdoctoral training support obligates you to perform 12 months of qualified research or teaching activities as payback. Only the first year of training incurs a payback obligation; the second year of training pays back the first year, with each month of qualifying payback activity paying back one month of NRSA support. If you receive two full years of NRSA training, you will have completed your payback obligation. In general, payback activity must involve at least 20 hours per week and be conducted over 12 consecutive months. Special exceptions to these requirements may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Additional resources on payback obligations can be found on the NIH website, along with separate payback FAQs.

 Trainee Resources

All trainees are encouraged to take advantage of the following resources: