Fellows spend at least two thirds of their time, primarily during their second and third years, in a protected research environment during which they have no clinical responsibilities and no call. Fellows identify their research mentors and projects during the year of their fellowship, although they are encouraged to explore opportunities prior to starting the fellowship. Fellows work with faculty and collaborators based at Le Bonheur, St. Jude, or the University of Tennessee in any department offering research related to infectious diseases. Research activity is supported by a Scholarly Oversight Committee, who provide mentoring in all aspects of fellows' educational development.
Exceptional opportunities exist for training in clinical, translational and basic science research. The Children's Foundation Research Institute is a 300,000-square-foot facility on the Le Bonheur campus that provides infrastructure and resources for pediatric physician scientists. These include a Pediatric Clinical Research Unit, Biomedical informatics and Biostatistics cores, Biorepository, and an intramural grants program. St. Jude's Children's Infection Defense Center seeks to discover, manufacture, and test interventions to eliminate serious infections in children in three broad areas: small-molecule anti-infective agents, vaccines and immunotherapeutic agents, and diagnostic technologies. The center collaborates closely with the St. Jude cGMP facility for the on-site manufacture of clinical-grade therapeutics. The Kmart St. Jude Life Center provides an outpatient site for Phase I and II clinical trials of novel therapeutic or preventative agents. Also housed in the Kmart St. Jude Life Center, the Pediatric AIDS Clinical Trials Unit conducts HIV research studies supported by the International Maternal Pediatric Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials (IMPAACT), the Adolescent Trials Network (ATN) and the Pediatric HIV/AIDS Cohort Study (PHACS). The World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Influenza at St. Jude leads the US effort against pandemic influenza and collaborates with the World Health Organization in tracking emergence of new influenza strains, and develops new vaccine approaches to prevent influenza.
Major research programs include the epidemiology and pathophysiology of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections and infectious diseases in immunocompromised hosts, the development of novel vaccines for respiratory viruses and pneumococcus, bacterial and viral genomics and the microbiome, HIV clinical trials, antimicrobial stewardship, and global health. Fellows have the option of participating in Masters and doctoral programs in Epidemiology, Public Health, Biomedical Sciences, and others, with tuition assistance. Extended research beyond the third year of fellowship is available for promising trainees.
A formal curriculum in scholarly activity is taught through lectures, journal clubs, workshops, and symposia, and by the development of individual learning plans and research proposals.