AAFP Seeks 2016-2017 Vaccine Science Fellowship Applicants

April 06, 2016 12:07 pm Chris Crawford
[Female health care worker with syringe]

The Academy is looking for the next generation of vaccine science leaders and is accepting applications for its 2016-2017 Vaccine Science Fellowship program.

Applicants should be credible physicians and scientists already knowledgeable about vaccine development and production, as well as vaccine policy, and be ready to represent the AAFP on the national stage.

Past Fellow's Experience

Past Vaccine Science Fellow John Epling, M.D., M.S.Ed., chairs the department of family medicine and is a professor at the State University of New York's Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y. He said he's glad he applied for the fellowship.

"I have been teaching public health and prevention in the context of family medicine for years, and I saw the fellowship as an opportunity to solidify my teaching, research and advocacy about preventive services," he told AAFP News.

Story highlights
  • Two fellowships are available for the 2016-2017 Vaccine Science Fellowship program, which connects family physicians with mentors to help them become more knowledgeable about vaccine science and policy.
  • The fellowship runs from May 1 to April 1, 2017, and requires a letter from the applicant's institution and/or department chair.
  • Applicants should submit a letter of interest and curriculum vitae, along with an institutional or departmental letter, via email to Pam Carter-Smith, M.P.A., at pcarter@aafp.org by April 22.

Epling said highlights of his year as a vaccine science fellow included attending a CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) meeting, the Wisconsin Council on Immunization Practices meeting and a handful of meetings in Washington with the AAFP's advocacy staff.

"I got a real sense of the range of policy-making activities that organized family medicine conducts," he said. "And the lasting benefit of the fellowship has been the email list of current and past fellows -- the occasional discussions we have are extremely valuable."

Epling credits his fellowship with opening the door to serving in a variety of policy and guideline roles inside and outside of the Academy, which he said allowed him to bring the perspective of a practicing family physician to these committees.

He also said he now better understands both the importance and complexity of family medicine's ability to address vaccine-preventable diseases. "The successful implementation of vaccines is indeed a science, and is, in my opinion, best delivered in primary care where we can work with the patients to promote vaccines and their benefits," Epling said.

He said prospective fellowship applicants should view this opportunity as a great way to shore up their knowledge about vaccines and vaccine policy and a chance to "dip their toes into the policy and guideline world."

"I have colleagues in both academic and private practice, all of whom have made (the fellowship) work," Epling said. "The ideal candidate for the fellowship has some significant experience in prevention and policy work and has a schedule that's flexible enough to accommodate the travel."

He said this fellowship continues to be critical in helping family medicine develop a cadre of people trained and experienced in vaccine guideline and policy development. "It helps our specialty 'be at the table' for these important guideline and policy discussions," Epling said.

Fellowship Details

Two fellowship positions are available. Once selected, fellows will work with mentors to become more knowledgeable about vaccine science and policy. Applicants must be U.S. citizens and active members of the AAFP, either in practice or teaching, and out of residency and fellowship.

The vaccine science fellowship runs from May 1 to April 1, 2017. The applicant's institution and/or department chair must write a letter stating that the applicant will be allowed the time required to complete the fellowship. Fellows must commit 10 percent of full-time employment -- about 22 days -- to the program.

Fellows also must travel to vaccine-related meetings, with costs covered by the fellowship. The fellows will attend about seven meetings during the yearlong fellowship -- for example, meetings of the ACIP, the National Vaccine Advisory Committee and the CDC's National Immunization Conference -- as well as periodic meetings with federal governmental staff and vaccine manufacturers.

Funding support for the AAFP Vaccine Science Fellowship program is provided by Merck & Co. Inc., which is required to disclose support information pertaining to the selected applicants in accordance with the Physician Payments Sunshine Act. Merck has no input into or control over selection of fellows or content of the fellowship program.

Applicants should submit a letter of interest and curriculum vitae, along with an institutional or departmental letter, via email to Pam Carter-Smith, M.P.A., at pcarter@aafp.org by April 22. Applicants also should complete the AAFP's online conflict-of-interest form.

An independent committee will review applications and select fellows. Awardees will be notified via email by April 27.

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