Didactic curriculum is largely dictated by the student's graduate program. Students may become part of the Pain Research Program through either departmental graduate programs, interdisciplinary graduate programs, the Biomedical Science Program (a first-year umbrella program supporting matriculation into any of seven PhD subprograms) or the dual degree Medical Scientist Training Program.

Coursework in addition to requirements from the various graduate programs include:

Complete Core Coursework.  All supported trainees are required to take the following coursework (or equivalent):

course # course name s.h.
PTRS:7899 Introduction to Pain 1
PTRS:7901 Pain Syndromes and Management 1
  Statistics course (multiple options available) 3
BMED:7270 Scholarly Integrity/Resp Conduct of Res I 0
BMED:7271 Scholarly Integrity/Resp Conduct of Res II 0
  Rigor and Reproducibility (lecture series in CTSA) 0

All trainees in the U Pain Research Program are required to take two 1 sh modules of a didactic pain course led by Dr. Sluka.  Each module lasts 5 weeks and are completed in 1 semester.  Module 1 provides an overview of basic science mechanisms of pain transmission and how these mechanisms transmit clinically, while Module 2 utilizes trainers and clinical faculty to provide content on a series of pain syndromes.
     One or more biostatistics course(s) is requied for our trainees.  Most predoctoral trainees will fulfill this requirement as part of their home department course requirements.
     Formal training in Responsibile Conduct of Research (RCR) and Rigor and Reproducibility is required for all trainees.  Several course options are available to fulfill these requirements.

Additional Requirements

Attend and Present at weekly Pain Research Program Work-in-Progress.  The UI Pain Research Program meets weekly for "Topics in Pain and Analgesia", which alternates between a traditional Journal Club format, external seminar series, and Work-in-Progress update presentations.  All trainees are expected to attend and are required to present in both the journal club and Work-in-Progress sessions each semester.  Presentations rotate equitably among predoctoral trainees and postdoctoral trainees, with additional associated trainees (not funded but associated with trainers' laboratories) presenting as well.  Specific guidelines for presenting include:

  • For journal club presentations: state why they chose the paper for presentation, provide the rationale, hypothesis and aims for the study, and discuss methodologies and results in terms of rigor and science.
  • For WIP presentations: review their study rationale, present their research progress, and indicate future research plans.

Participate in Annual Pain Research Program Workshop.  Our annual workshop will occur over 1 1/2 days (Friday and Saturday) typically between May and August, to enable us to augment educational opportunities that occur throughout the year.  We cover different topics each year that will be determined by the Executive Committee, with input from program trainees, associated trainees, and trainers.

Attend regional, national and/or international pain meetings.  Locally, trainees are expected to present their research each year at the CCOM Research Day, typically in April, and/or other local or regional research meetings.  We particularly encourage participation in the annual meeting of the new US Association for the Study of Pain (US_ASP) and/or the World Congress on Pain (IASP) that occurs every other year, but students also attend the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience or a discipline-specific meeting.

NINDS T32 Program Workshop.  All the trainees appointed to the grant will be required to attend one of the NINDS hosted T32 Program Workshop.

Cross-training in Clinical and Basic Science.  Each trainee will be required to pck 2 of 4 potential shadowing experiences (e.g. pain medicine clinic, basic science lab, PT clinic, mental health clinic) based on their interest and training needs but must be from outside of their expertise.  They will then spend at least two half-days shadowing at each.  This cross-disciplinary training promotes and strengthens the translational nature of the program bringing unique experiences to each trainee.

Submit external grant application.  Each predoctoral trainee appointed to the grant is required to submit their thesis research proposal as an NRSA (if the appropriate institute supports this mechanism) or private foundation application for funding, we encourage submission by the end of their 1st year as a T32 trainee.

Career Advisory Committee.  Each trainee will have a three-member Career Advisory Committee, which will consist of their primary mentor and two additional trainers from the program.  While the representation of the Career Advisory Committee may overlap the thesis committee, it may diverge, particularly to ensure diverse representation accross disciplines, basic vs clinical research expertise, etc.  The Career Advisory Committee focuses on career direction and provides the trainee an additional means of identifying career goals and objectives.  The committee will meet at least annually, beginning approximately 5-6 months after appointment to the UI Pain Research Program traineeship.

Individualized Training Plan.  Each predoctoral trainee is reqired to complete as part of their graduate program, an individual development plan (IDP) with consultation with their Career Advisory Committee.  We encourage the use of the thorough online IDP tool that assists the trainee in creating an individualized and targeted career plan that considers their interests, strengths, and opportunities, but also have a simplified version to promote communication between trainees and their mentors.

Additional opportunities:

  • Teaching.  In the second year of T32 training, after completion of the core pain courses in year 1, trainees can serve as a teaching assistant for these pain course modules.  This allows the trainees to begin to establish their teaching portfolio and improve their oral presentation skills.  Predoctoral trainees with a strong interest in teaching can pursue a graduate teaching certificate, which requires additional coursework, a teaching praticum, and development of a teaching portfolio.
  • UI Scientific Editing and Research Communication Core.  This core is staffed with experienced scientific editors who provide feedback on grants and manuscripts that greatly helps not only the grammar but importantly, helps students (and faculty) present data in a way that nonexperts can readily understand.  Trainees are encouraged to submit their grant application(s) to the Core for feedback prior to submission to a funding agency.