First Year

In the first year of the fellowship, the fellow may choose between a traditional basic science effort and a dedicated clinical research effort.

Basic Science Experience

The Cheng/Sharma laboratory offers an opportunity in the basic science realm. Although previous basic science experience is helpful, it is not required to participate in the laboratory.

Earl Cheng, MD, and Arun Sharma, PhD, run the laboratory at the Institute for Tissue Engineering and Nanotechnology at Northwestern University. The current focus of the group is bladder tissue engineering, although numerous aspects of regenerative medicine, stem cell biology and scaffold design are being investigated via various techniques.

Collaboration with other laboratories at Northwestern University or the Stanley Manne Research Center is also possible when an appropriate research project cannot be conducted in the Division’s laboratories. It is also possible for the applicant to bring ongoing research, although this will require discussion and approval by the research faculty prior to initiation of any research.

Clinical Research Experience

The dedicated clinical research experience, under the guidance of Emilie Johnson, MD, MPH, and Ilina Rosoklija, MPH, will immerse the fellow in an assortment of short- and long-term projects. All projects are approved by the Division of Urology at the monthly research meetings. The research experience addresses tenets of clinical research, including study design, biostatistics and ethics of use of human subjects.

Over the course of two years, the fellow is expected to conduct projects with a range of methodology and topics. Each project is expected to result in an abstract submitted to a regional or national meeting and a manuscript submitted to a peer-reviewed journal.


The first year is designed to allow scientific productivity. The only routine clinical responsibility for the first year fellow is planning, execution and analysis of video urodynamics studies one day per week. This is an opportunity to review the history and plan the study to answer the clinical question.  It is also an excellent setting in which to cultivate versatile communication skills with pediatric patients and their parents. 

The first year fellow also attends Friday morning didactic sessions, both participating in discussions regarding challenging cases and becoming familiar with the management approaches of the faculty.

Related Opportunities

Advanced educational opportunities through Northwestern University exist, depending upon the interests and background of the fellow applicant.

Certificate in Clinical and Translational Science/Masters of Science in Clinical Investigation (MCSI): The first year fellow is eligible to take coursework toward the Certificate in Clinical and Translational Science through the Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences (NUCATS) Institute. This coursework incorporates biostatistics, epidemiology, ethics and clinical design to create a foundation for development of personal projects. The Division of Urology covers the tuition expenses for the Certificate program. Two years of coursework is anticipated for the MCSI, so this is not generally feasible within the traditional two-year fellowship.

Northwestern University also offers a Certificate and Masters Degree in Health Services and Outcomes Research, with a different set of course offerings for applicants with strong interest in HSR.

Opportunities to complete a full degree may be negotiable for candidates highly motivated to use these degrees in their academic career.