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Overview and Goals
Since its inception in 2009, the Training Program has remained true to its goals and objectives:

  • to build and expand training capacity within the Cumming School of Medicine, ACHRI and University of Calgary;
  • to further enhance training activities and special events in a transdisciplinary educational environment;
  • to improve the opportunities for team research across themes and with national / international collaborators; and
  • to emphasize the importance of knowledge translation and the ethical and social implications of genetics and child health research.

These objectives are accomplished through a variety of funding opportunities and training initiatives that help equip ACHRI trainees - undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and medical residents - with the necessary tools to succeed in an increasingly complex medical research environment, thereby creating the next generation of skilled health researchers.

Capacity Building
Science is leading the way to new understandings of diseases and treatments. To ensure that we have the best opportunities to generate new and important knowledge, a goal of the ACHRI Training Program, and the ACHRI Research Training and Education Platform as a whole, is to build and expand training capacity and help develop excellence in the next generation of scientists.

A large portion of the raining Program  is dedicated to providing funding support to ACHRI graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, on a competitive basis once a year, in presenting them with an opportunity to train in an effective learning environment that emphasizes collaboration, a transdisciplinary perspective, and a focus on child health research. The term of the award is two years, for both studentships and fellowships, with renewal for the second year contingent upon the satisfactory progress of the trainee. Typically, six to eight graduate students and three to four postdoctoral scholars are awarded each year through this funding stream.  Additionally, the Training Program provides Fast-Track stipend support on an ongoing basis to prospective graduate and postdoctoral trainees who have demonstrated a high degree of academic excellence. This initiative is highly beneficial for recruiting high quality trainees to work and train at ACHRI.

In addition to the graduate studentship and fellowship awards, the Program provides stipend support to undergraduate summer students. Funding summer research projects of eight to ten undergraduate students, this initiative was created to expose participating trainees to the research environment and its practices, and to encourage undergraduate students in health-related fields to pursue further training and work experience in health research. Our summer studentship awardees are expected to submit a written report or poster on their research results, as well as to deliver an oral presentation on the summer project, as a way to introduce these trainees to standard practices in academic science and knowledge translation.

Furthermore, in accepting responsibility and financial support for the ACHF-ACHRI Clinical Research Fellowship program in 2009, the Program administers additional ACHF funds, specifically allocated for clinical research traineeships for residents in pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, and genetics; trainees in certification programs, such as the Canadian College of Medical Genetics (CCMG); and pre- and postdoctoral traineeships in conjunction with the Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Program (CCHCSP) – a highly competitive national program for Clinician Scientists. Scholarships for Clinical Research Fellows are awarded on a competitive basis once per year in May. As with our regular fellowships, the term of the ACHF-ACHRI Clinical Research Fellowship is two years, with the second year of funding contingent on the satisfactory progress of the trainee.

Summary Since 2009, the total number of trainees whose research has been supported by the ACHRI-CIHR Training Program has reached 170. This number includes 51 undergraduate summer students, 41 Master’s students, 35 PhD students (including 1 in the CCHSCP program), 38 postdoctoral fellows (including 4 in the CCMG program), and 5 residents in research training.

Advanced Skill Development
Travel Awards
. The  Training Program offers travel awards for trainees to attend meetings where they have an opportunity to present their research and be exposed to advances in research in their specialty areas. This enriched learning benefits both the trainee and his or her training environment as the exposure to new knowledge influences the trainee’s research path and builds additional expertise locally.  Since 2009, the Program has supported over 120 travel opportunities for students to attend meetings in North America and Europe to present their work, network with fellow trainees and researchers, and learn about the latest important research in their field.

Trainee Research Visits. In addition to travel awards, our Program offered to eligible trainees who wish to travel to attend a course of several weeks’ duration, or to visit a partnering research group to learn practical techniques or collaborate in ongoing studies. These visits expose the trainee to new technology, support collaborative research opportunities or more broadly expose the trainee to increased depth in a research field. Since 2009, 17 research visits have been funded by the Program.

Events. As ACHRI aims to support the development of innovative, effective, transdisciplinary, and internationally competitive training initiatives, the Program addresses this goal by organizing and supporting research days, symposia, workshops and seminars that focus on child-health basic and applied research and transdisciplinary research. Aside from posting on ACHRI’s website announcements of research days, workshops and symposia that could be of interest to ACHRI trainees, we organize such events in-house. For instance, the Program supports ACHRI-centered and theme-organized research days and symposia,  which could be on-site or off-site retreats or trainee research days involving oral and poster presentations by trainees and a seminar by a visiting scholar. Moreover, with the objective of bringing together members of all the themes and research groups within the institute, and to encourage interaction among ACHRI trainees with different research interests, ACHRI organizes its annual flagship event, the ACHRI Research Symposium, which features presentations by invited scholars, institute members and trainees.

Visiting Speakers. In 2009, the ACHRI-CIHR Training Program established a program for hosting visiting scholars who are invited to the U of C for the purpose of participating in a PhD examination committee and presenting a lecture to ACHRI trainees and faculty.  The Training Program offers to cover the expenses of each visiting scholar and their ACHRI host. This funding is provided on an ongoing basis and is conditional on the following requirements:  1) the visiting scholar must present a seminar to students and faculty, and 2) supervisor must host an informal networking event to encourage interaction between ACHRI trainees, faculty, and the visiting scholar. To date, 23 such visits have been funded by the Program.