The Immunoengineering Postdoctoral Training (ImEPosT) Program offers the brightest postdoctoral scholars interdisciplinary training in immunology, bioengineering, science communications, and grantwriting, helping them reach their goals of becoming tomorrow's investigators. Through generous support from the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases (NIAID; award # T32-AI153020), the CIIC and the Biological Sciences Division's Committee on Immunology (CoI) are proud to champion the most promising postdoctoral scholars as they further their careers in this growing new field. Particularly suitable for early-stage postdocs in years 1-2 of their tenure on campus, this two-year program supports immunologists and bioengineers who wish to pursue coursework in each others' fields. In addition, monthly workshops in scientific communications and proposal writing, which culminate in milestone deliverables, provide complementary professional development for the activities that today's researchers engage in.
Interdisciplinary Career Development for Aspiring Independent Investigators
You may have selected your research mentor/laboratory for the exciting science and to gain expertise in the field, and pairing that with the ImEPosT fellowship can take your training beyond the lab bench! Fellows receive financial support from the ImEPosT program for up to two years through the following ways:
- Stipend, commensurate with federal guidelines for the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards (NRSA)
- $1,600/year towards single medical insurance benefits (provided via Gallagher). Additional support for domestic partners, dependents, and family comes through a supplemental stipend from your research mentor
- $1,000/year towards conference travel, registration, and housing
- $4,500/year towards registration for short courses and didactic programming, meant to enhance the ability of bioengineers and immunologists to speak each others' language. For bioengineers, it may be beneficial to take the educational offerings of the American Assocation of Immunologists (AAI). For immunologists, quantitative tools and bioinformatics short courses are available from a variety of sources, including Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
- Priority spots on an internal Grant & Proposal Writing Workshop and on the Science Communications program.
- Training in the Responsible Conduct of Research. NIH mandates 8h of in-person instruction every two years. Completing the course offered annually by the Institute for Translational Medicine (typically July-August) will fulfill these requirements.
- Cross-Disciplinary Education. For engineers, take an immunology short course. For immunologists, take a short course in quantitative methods, bioinformatics, or systems immunology. If you're coming from a different background, any. mix of these offerings is acceptable. You have a budget of $4,500/year, so use it to broaden your horizons and network!
- Grant & Proposal Writing Workshop. With monthly sessions, the goal is to prepare you to submit an NIH-style research proposal within a year.
- Immunoengineering Science Hour and annual conference. Make sure to present project updates annually at the CIIC's seminar series and conference!
- Science Communications & Outreach Component. In year one of support, you will take basic training in science communications for non-expert audiences. The workshops will prepare you for the two milestones: a showing at the Museum of Science & Industry's Junior Science Cafe series, and the STEM pathways short course in molecular engineering for students at the City Colleges of Chicago.
By the time of appointment, fellows must:
- Be a citizen or a noncitizen national of the United States or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence by the time of appointment. Due to the nature of the funding support through the NRSA schema, further details are governed not by UChicago policy, but §11.3.2 of the NIH Grants Policy Statement;
- Hold a PhD, MD, DVM, ScD, EngD, PharmD, or equivalent doctoral degree from an accredited educational institution; and
- Not have completed 36 months of prior postdoctoral NRSA support (typically prior holders of F32 fellowships.
NIH Payback Guidelines
By accepting an NRSA T32 appointment, postdoctoral fellows will be asked to sign Form 6031, which is a legally-binding document noting their agreement with NIH-mandated payback guidelines for the first year of support. This requirement is typically fulfilled by completing the two-year training program, or by continuing in health-related research or education roles after the conclusion of the program. More details on this policy are described in §11.4 of the NIH Grant Policy Statement.