Basic and Translational Research Training

Educational Programs

Medical Students

Division faculty serve as Course Director and Co-director for the Musculoskeletal (MSK) Block Course for first year medical students. During the MS-2 year faculty members teach in the Integrated Case Studies Course. During the MS-3 year faculty members teach students rotating through the Medicine Clerkship as medicine attendings or as proctors for Physical Diagnosis. During the MS-4 year 6-10 students choose the 4-week Rheumatology elective and are supervised daily by faculty.

Medical Residents

Interns and more senior medicine residents rotate on the Rheumatology service for 2-4 weeks, participating in all of our clinical and teaching activities. We currently support residents from Internal Medicine, Dermatology, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation as well as visiting residents from other medical centers. We participate in the yearly resident lecture. Finally, one faculty member reviews rheumatology-specific MKSAP questions with the medical residents during 3 sessions on a yearly basis.

Interdisciplinary Biomedical Graduate Program (IBGP)

Interdisciplinary Biomedical Graduate Program at the University of Pittsburgh is a program built around a core of modern cell and molecular biology.  After completing laboratory rotations and required first year course work, students match with a research mentor and transfer into one of six participating PhD granting programs.  The program offers students choice and opportunities to explore different approaches to research. This program is only open to students seeking a PhD.

General Overview 

Successful completion of the first year curriculum and identification of a laboratory mentor is required for IBGP students to enter the Immunology (IMM) Graduate Program. Students from the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) can matriculate into the IMM Graduate Program after completing two years of medical school and identifying a laboratory mentor.  Students normally enter the Program on September 1 following approval by the Graduate Program Director and the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies.  Basic science faculty in the Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology participate in this program.

Required Immunology Program Activities

The weekly Student/Postdoc Research in Progress Seminar series allows graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, faculty, and guest speakers to present their current research results. Graduate students must present their research progress once each year after passing the Comprehensive Examination. Graduate students also have the opportunity to meet with guest speakers of the Department of Immunology Seminar Series for special breakfasts, where the students can begin to form contacts for collaborations and future post-doctoral opportunities. Attendance each week is required for all Graduate Students.

If you are interested in applying, please contact:

Dr. Sarah Gaffen
Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology
BST-South, 7th floor
3500 Terrace Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15261

T32 Grants

The Division of Rheumatology participates in a T32 training grant “Autoimmunity and Immunopathology Training Program” (AI/IP). The goals of the Training Program are to provide students and fellows with courses, research projects, highly-qualified mentors and financial resources to allow them to:

  • elucidate the basic mechanisms underlying tissue injury caused by inappropriate immune responses
  • define the effector mechanisms in the immune response to self tissues
  • elucidate mechanisms of immune regulation and tolerance and their relation to autoimmune disease and immunopathology
  • become well-versed in the responsible conduct of research
  • develop critical career development skills and managerial ability.

Please contact Dr. Sarah Gaffen for more information regarding our T32 training opportunities at

Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP)

The Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) is designed to provide educational and research opportunities for undergraduates considering graduate education. The program is sponsored and administered by the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Graduate Program (IBGP) at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine, a premier research center. The goal is to provide an exceptional environment for students to gain research experience under the guidance of internationally recognized scientists.

Program Description

Under the guidance of a selected faculty member, the student will participate in the ongoing research efforts of the laboratory.  During this ten week program, the student will gain experience in basic laboratory skills and develop an understanding of the scientific process.  Students will also participate in ongoing activities such as weekly journal clubs and a weekly seminar series as well as lab meetings. Students participating in the summer undergraduate research programs will have an opportunity to present the results of their research experience.


Interested students entering their sophomore or junior year must complete an application. This should consist of a personal statement of the student’s research interests and career goals, an unofficial transcript from the student’s undergraduate institution, and two letters of recommendation from the student’s major advisor or other faculty member familiar with the student’s academic performance and career goals.

Deadline for applications is March 1. Students will receive a stipend for the ten week research program beginning June (first week) through August (first week). Students are responsible for travel costs to Pittsburgh and housing.

For further information contact:

Dr. Sarah Gaffen
Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology
BST-South, 7th floor
3500 Terrace Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15261

Contact Us

Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology Offices

S700 Biomedical Science Tower
3500 Terrace Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15261
412-383-8000  |  Email Us

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