Education & Training


The Vitalant Research Institute has since inception, been firmly committed to the advanced training of young scientists in the areas of transfusion medicine, infectious disease, immunology and epidemiology.

Training at the Research Institute

A number of features make the Research Institute a unique place to receive training:

  • The institute is one of only four significant blood bank-sponsored research programs in the U.S.  The Research Institute is the leading program in the U.S. and perhaps the world with respect to transfusion-transmitted infectious diseases, and is at the fore-front of several other areas of transfusion medicine research.
  • Investigators do research full-time allowing for maximum contact between the mentor and the trainee as they work together on important research projects that often involve multicenter collaborations.
  • Our affiliation with the University of California, San Francisco allows postdoctoral trainees to take advantage of coursework and other training opportunities at a world-class biomedical research university while still maintaining the more intimate environment of a small independent research institute.
Openings & Trainees

Lab Investigators with openings recruit postdoctoral trainees directly. These positions are fully supported by externally- and internally-funded research grants.

Potential Mentors:
Michael P. Busch, MD, PhD
Brian Custer, PhD, MPH
Eric Delwart, PhD
Rachael Jackman, PhD
Marcus Muench, PhD
Edward Murphy, MD, MPH
Philip Norris, MD
Satish Pillai, PhD
Graham Simmons, PhD

Program Description

The Vitalant Research Institute has a dual mission in education and research, and offers training programs in basic science, epidemiology and clinical transfusion medicine. Our extensive US and international collaborations allow the trainee to experience how modern biomedical research is conducted.

1) Postdoctoral research fellowships:

Do Research:
Your main goal as a Postdoctoral Fellow is to develop a productive early research career in collaboration with your designated mentor.  Together you will develop your research questions, learn how to obtain funding, perform the research, analyze your data and write scientific abstracts and manuscripts. Postdoctoral fellowships at the Research Institute are predominantly laboratory-based, although epidemiology postdocs are also possible.

Present and Publish:

  • You are expected to present your work internally at least once a year, usually at the Tuesday seminars.  These seminars allow the presentation of work in progress – to have Institute-wide interaction on a scientific basis and also to hone your presentation skills.
  • You are also expected to give presentations at one or more scientific conference each year. You should give a practice presentation to the institute's scientific community prior to the actual scientific meeting. At the conference you should try to interact as much as possible with other scientists working on your topic.
  • You are expected to publish your work, and will be mentored in this process by your principal investigator.
Learn Career Skills:
  • You are expected to attend Tuesday morning lab presentations and other Research Institute Colloquia. You are expected to show active involvement by asking questions and participating in the discussions.
  • You are expected to present or participate in a 'journal club' discussion of a paper of general interest. Journal clubs are held monthly at the Research Institute, with rotating responsibility for presentation.
  • While the Institute does not have formal courses, a vast variety of classes, workshops and seminars are available at neighboring UCSF, J. David Gladstone Institutes, and other SF Bay Area research institutes.
  • Ethical Conduct of Research: the Research Institute offers web-based and in-person training in the ethical conduct of research, as required by many NIH training grants.

Individual Development Plan for Postdoctoral Fellows

The Research Institute utilizes the Individual Development Plan (IDP) to provide a planning process to identify both professional development needs and career objectives.  The IDP serves as a tool for mentor and postdoc to identify short-term skills for improving current performance, as well as long-term planning to identify approaches to develop the necessary skills for the career objectives.

2) The Herbert Perkins Transfusion Medicine Fellowship:

This ACGME approved program is co-sponsored by UCSF, Vitalant, and the Research Institute. Directed by Dr. Morvarid Moayeri, the program has trained over 50 clinical fellows during the last three decades. For more information including application requirements and instructions, please see the program website here.

3) International Training in Transfusion Medicine Research:

This program directed by Dr. Edward L. Murphy, Senior Investigator at the Research Institute and professor at UCSF, provides clinical and epidemiologic research training to blood bank professionals from low and middle income countries in a critical effort to provide safe and sustainable blood supplies internationally. The program combines three levels of training: i) two week short courses teach clinical research methodologies applicable to transfusion medicine to a dozen trainees and are held in country in Africa, Latin America and Asia; ii) the most promising trainees from the short courses are offered 6-8 week internships at the Research Institute in San Francisco during which time they take coursework at UCSF and perform mentored research at the Research Institute; and iii) selected trainees are further mentored in manuscript writing, grantsmanship and potentially Master's or PhD thesis research.

4) Summer Internships:

Each summer, this program offers several 8-10 week paid internships to selected undergraduate and graduate students interested in mentored basic science or epidemiology research with one of the Research Institute investigators. Students will participate in seminars, presentations and institutional events.

For more information on the upcoming Summer internship positions, please visit our employment page.