Program Description & Curriculum

The Mass General Brigham Training Program in Precision & Genomic Medicine (P&GM) is designed to provide rigorous, interdisciplinary training of postdoctoral scientists in the translational of genomic, clinical and computational sciences that are driving a new era of precision and genomic medicine. The program is geared toward physician-scientists as well as clinically-oriented PhD scientists intending to develop careers in precision or genomic medicine.

To accomplish this, the Program offers a combination of didactic experiences, mentored research projects, and training in technical and leadership skills across 4 key domains of P&GM;

Domain Scope
Medical Genetics/ Genomics Discovery and annotation of rare and common DNA variants associated with human disease and resilience; penetrance
Molecular Medicine Laboratory-based dissection of disease mechanism and identification and/or validation of therapeutic targets related to “omic” variation
Data Science Statistical genetics; machine learning and other “big data” methods; bioinformatics; medical informatics
Implementation Science Genetic and diagnostic testing; translation and implementation of genomic findings to clinical practice; cost-effectiveness and ELSI issues

 

Core Didactics, Conferences, and Meetings:

Core Didactics: All Fellows will be required to participate in a series of didactic offerings designed to cover the essential knowledge base for research and career development in P&GM. Didactics also provide an important opportunity for fellows to interact with their peers and with faculty mentors in a small group setting.

P&GM T32 led didactic seminars are held on a weekly, rotating basis and include but are not limited to Journal Clubs, Research Career Development Seminars, and P&GM Fellows Research Seminars. P&GM Trainees are required to lead two Fellows Research Seminars and two Journal clubs, annually.

  1. P&GM Journal Clubs: The monthly Journal Club provides a crucial opportunity for trainees to stay abreast of cutting-edge research, benefit from interchange with expert faculty, and enhance their skills at presenting and interpreting research findings.
  2. P&GM Research Career Development Seminar: This monthly seminar is designed to address the “soft skills” involved in launching a research career. Led each week by a P&GM faculty mentor, the discussion topics will include: strategies for identifying and obtaining funding; grantsmanship pointers; how to identify job opportunities and give job talks; setting up an independent lab; managing collaborations; leadership skills; time management; expanding your professional network; team versus individual science; skills for success; work-life balance; and others.
  3. P&GM Fellows Research Seminar: This core seminar is designed to provide opportunities for trainees to develop and present their research projects and receive constructive feedback from program faculty and their trainee peers.
  1. Responsible Conduct of Research: Per NIH requirements, trainees are required to complete a program of instruction in responsible conduct of research (RCR).  MGB and the P&GM T32 provides resources for Fellows to complete these required courses.

To ensure trainees are provided opportunities in exposure to all four domains of P&GM, in addition to the P&GM T32 led didactic series, trainees are required to attend lectures offered by the Harvard Medical School Genetics Training Program (HMSGTP) and Massachusetts General Hospital Division of Clinical Research (DCR).

Individualized Didactics: In addition to the above Core Didactics, Fellows will work with their Mentorship Committee (MC; see below) to develop an individualized educational plan that may include supplemental short courses or semester courses in their areas of research interest. The educational plan will be designed with efficiency in mind so that trainees are not over-burdened with coursework that might detract from their primary responsibilities for completing their mentored research projects.

Conferences: The MGH/Mass General Brigham/Broad community offers a range of conferences and seminars related to genetics, genomics, and precision medicine. Of these, three in particular are established and highly relevant conferences that have become essential venues for presenting P&GM research and convening the Boston genomics community; trainees are strongly encouraged to attend one or more of these conferences each month:

  1. CGM Genomic Medicine Seminar (biweekly). This conference is hosted by the MGH Center for Genomic Medicine with presentations by both center faculty and prominent outside speakers presenting in the field of human genetics, molecular biology, and genomic medicine.
  2. Broad Medical and Population Genetics Program Meeting (weekly). This conference has become a ‘go-to’ meeting for the Boston genetics research community. Each week more than 150 attendees hear about the latest developments in human genetics and genomics.
  3. Brigham Genomic Medicine Conference (weekly). This conference is a venue for case presentations and lively discussion of cases seen in the BWH Division of Genetics that are suspected to have a genetic etiology. The case conference emphasizes interdisciplinary team perspectives on diagnosis and management incorporating clinical genomics, bioinformatics, and experimental medicine.

Annual Meetings: As part of the program, trainees will attend an annual retreat that will include opportunities to interact with faculty, present research, and learn about advances in P&GM. Due to the COVID pandemic and conference restrictions, annual retreats have been postponed. We hope to reinstate these events in the future. Additional information will be communicated by the P&GM Program Manager.

Each spring, trainees will also attend the NHGRI Research Training and Career Development Annual Meeting. This meeting will provide an ideal opportunity for trainees to network with other trainees, external faculty, and NHGRI staff. It will also provide our training staff an important opportunity to learn and share best practices and approaches to training in genomic medicine. Trainees are required to submit an abstract for this event. More information will be forthcoming.

Mentored Research and Career Development:

The mentored research component is the heart of the training experience. It is through this hands-on immersion in research that trainees will focus their research interests, experience the full spectrum of the research process (hypothesis generation, study design, human subjects approval, application of methods and technologies, and presentation and publication of findings). A listing of mentors can be found on the Training Program Faculty page.

Mentorship Team. In keeping with the inherently interdisciplinary nature of P&GM research, trainees will be expected to select two mentors from different domains of the program (MGG, MM, DS, and IS). A Mentorship Committee will be formed for each trainee comprising a Primary Mentor (in their primary domain of interest), a Secondary Mentor (in a secondary domain), and the two Program Directors (Drs. Smoller and Rehm).

Mentored Research Projects. Each trainee will develop research projects under the supervision of their Primary faculty mentor and with guidance from the Mentorship Team. For most trainees, the primary research projects will integrate components of at least two of the four domains (MGG, DS, MM, IS). With this guidance, trainees will play a leading role in all aspects of the research projects from hypothesis generation through publication). In addition to their primary research projects, trainees will also typically contribute to one or more other research projects in their Primary or Secondary Mentor’s labs. We expect that by the end of the training period, a typical trainee will be first author on two publications and a contributing author on one or more additional publications.