The Hematologist

May-June 2018, Volume 15, Issue 3

Translational Research Training in Hematology

Jean Soulier, MD, PhD Professor of Hematology
Hôspital Saint Louis and University, Paris, France
David M. Bodine, PhD Chief, Genetics and Molecular Biology Branch
National Institute for Human Genome Research, Bethesda, MD

Published on: April 26, 2018

Author's Note: We thank the EHA and ASH staff for sharing information about the TRTH trainees. Special thanks to Dr. Donna Neuberg for compiling detailed follow-up of each TRTH trainee.

In 2009, ASH and the European Hematology Association (EHA) jointly announced a pioneering venture known as the Translational Research Training in Hematology (TRTH) program. The goal of TRTH is to provide expert training to a select group of 20 trainees (10 from Europe and 10 from North America) engaged in research into the mechanisms of hematologic disorders and experimental treatments. The program was designed to establish a network of talented trainees and dedicated mentors available to provide scientific input as well as career development advice.

The “translational research” component of the program’s name can be misinterpreted to mean that TRTH is not designed for trainees engaged in “basic” research, which not the case. A perusal of the trainees and their projects throughout the past nine years demonstrates that TRTH welcomes all trainees engaged in all aspects of discovery and translational research in hematology. In fact, TRTH only excludes trainees engaged in clinical trials research, who are directed to the Clinical Research Training Institute (CRTI) and Clinical Research Training in Hematology (CRTH) programs, run by ASH and EHA, respectively. Most of the trainees selected for the CRTI and CRTH programs as well as the faculty are MDs. In contrast, the nine classes of TRTH participants thus far have nearly equal representation of PhDs (28%), MD/PhDs (39%), and MDs (32%), which is proportional to the overall distribution of the applications received. Likewise, the TRTH faculty includes PhDs, MD/PhDs, MDs, and DVMs.

TRTH is a yearlong experience. Each year the selected trainees meet in March at a European location (currently Milan, Italy) for an intensive week of training. The meeting includes an in-depth review and discussion of each trainee’s research project, intertwined with didactic faculty presentations on ethics, biostatistics, model organisms, and the pharmaceutical industry, as well as grant- and paper-writing workshops and a mock grant-review study section. Afternoons are typically devoted to small-group discussions involving five trainees and three faculty members and on-demand sessions. Evenings are dedicated to social events that include dinner speeches by the faculty and a successful trainee from a previous class describing their career paths. The group reconvenes at the EHA Annual Congress in June and has a final group meeting at the ASH annual meeting the following December.

A major value of TRTH is the establishment of a network of talented trainees and dedicated mentors that is designed to support each trainee throughout their career. It is expected that the trainees and faculty members will continue to interact over many years. Indeed, this has overwhelmingly been the case. More than 95 percent of TRTH trainees have maintained contact with their classmates and faculty. (For validation of the value of the TRTH experience one may visit the “What to expect” page on the http://ehaweb.org site to read some of the many testimonials and the list of present and previous TRTH trainees.)

The alumni of TRTH have become highly successful in hematology. More than 34 percent of the TRTH alumni now run their own laboratories, and this number will continue to rise as recent classes transition to independence. The 115 participating trainees prior to 2018 have collectively published more than 2,220 articles, including almost 900 as first authors. Additionally, more than 90 percent of the TRTH alumni have been successful in obtaining funding from a variety of governmental and philanthropic sources. The enduring benefits of TRTH can be seen in the fact the more than 50 percent of trainees who are engaged in active collaborations with their TRTH classmates and/or TRTH faulty members.

The eligibility requirements for North American and European TRTH applicants are broad, reflecting the diversity of hematology research and the people engaged in that research. There are no specific degrees included or excluded; the only requirement is a demonstrated commitment to hematology research. The complete eligibility requirements can be found at www.hematology.org/TRTH. The application process begins with a letter of intent (LOI) that is due June 21, 2018. We hope that all interested trainees will explore applying.

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