Vanderbilt Infection Pathogenesis and Epidemiology Research (VIPER)

The main objective of the Vanderbilt Infection Pathogenesis and Epidemiology Research (VIPER) Training Program is to prepare and train postdoctoral fellows for careers in infectious diseases basic science, translational research and epidemiology in infectious diseases. Supported by an NIH T32 training grant for more than 25 years, the program has had an outstanding track record of successfully launching postdoctoral MD and PhD fellows into highly productive careers in academics and advancing new paradigms in infection treatment and prevention. VIPER was initiated as the “Molecular Basis of Infectious Diseases (MBID)” Training Program in 1995, and was renewed in 2000 and 2005. In 2009, the program was renamed VIPER to include training in clinical epidemiology and infectious diseases pathogenesis.

The broad training opportunities available through VIPER help translational scientists better appreciate both the clinical need revealed by epidemiological research and the potential bench-based solutions to advance human health. Throughout the tenure of our program, Vanderbilt’s collaborative culture has enabled us to include PhD scientists as mentees and mentors, which has increased the rigor of research training for all fellows.

VIPER supports four training positions per year, and provides partial tuition support for trainees pursuing Vanderbilt’s Master of Public Health or Master of Science in Clinical Investigation degree programs. 

We are now accepting applications for the VIPER T32 training program. We accept MD or PhD postdocs for this award, but we prioritize MDs (or MD/PhDs), and require that candidates commit to two years of research training (unless other research grant support is received prior to that time). Although we allow two years of support on the training grant, a second year is not guaranteed, and first-year applicants are given priority for training slots. 

If you are interested, please share this email with your mentor or mentees. If you are a mentor not currently on the VIPER grant, we can easily add you if your mentee is awarded a slot.

The following items are required for application to the program: 

  • The mentor will need to submit a brief letter of nomination, summarizing why the trainee’s work would be appropriate for the training grant
  • The trainee or mentor should supply a Specific Aims page similar to the single page typically included in an NIH grant application. Please also include a one paragraph description of the proposed research. This will help the review committee judge the merit of the application. It’s ok to provide additional supporting information, but please do not send a full grant that has been submitted for review elsewhere. Also, if you feel the need to supply some background information or preliminary data, please limit this material to two additional pages, totaling no more than three pages of science
  • The trainee should provide a current CV
  • The trainee should provide and a brief statement of research interest that includes their long- term career goals
  • If the mentor is not currently listed on the training grant, they should provide either a CV, or an NIH biosketch
  • If you have a trainee currently on the grant, and you will be requesting a second year on the training grant for them, please submit a letter of nomination. In this case the trainee should submit a one-page progress report briefly describing their work over the past year, highlighting any manuscripts submitted or published, and any applications for supplemental funding

Please send these materials to Kristi Daniel, Tim Sterling, Martha Shrubsole and Spyros Kalams via email by March 1, 2023. The start date for funding is Aug. 1, 2023.

Program Leadership

Spyros A. Kalams, MD

Professor of Medicine
Program Director, VIPER

Timothy R. Sterling, MD

Professor of Medicine
Associate Program Director, VIPER

Martha J. Shrubsole, PhD

Research Professor of Medicine
Associate Program Director, VIPER