Mentored Research Career Development (KL2) Program in Clinical and Translational Science

The Mentored Research Career Development (KL2) Program supports Clinical and Translational Research Scholars who are selected on a competitive basis for a two-year program of research mentorship. This NIH-sponsored program targets individuals who are affiliated with the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) that encompasses all University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio schools and our diverse public and private partners in South Texas.

Eligible applicants are junior faculty with a professional degree or are completing postdoctoral training with an impending academic appointment. The Program focuses on the very best of the best junior faculty who are committed to a research career in clinical and translational science. Salary support is provided by the KL2 Program to provide protected time for research and training activities; limited research support as well as travel expenses are also provided. The program provides an intense, personalized research training and career development experience that optimizes chances for a successful research career as an independent investigator. Candidates selected for participation in the Mentored Research Career Development Program will be designated as KL2 Scholars.

GOALS:  The Mentored Research Career Development Program’s goals are to:

  • Enhance the research training and career development of a diverse group of exceptional early career investigators in clinical and translational science.
  • Provide exciting and novel programs of didactic and practical training in the design, conduct, and analysis of clinical and translational science investigation.
  • Instill appreciation for the theory, methods and analytic strategies among the diverse disciplines that contribute to successful multidisciplinary clinical and translational research.
  • Provide mentored research experiences that will advance Scholars to independence as clinical and translational scientists.
  • Develop clinical and translational research leaders with strong team management skills, excellent verbal and written communication proficiencies, and outstanding grant writing capabilities.

CANDIDATES:  Candidates for the KL2 Scholar program are junior faculty recruited from a wide range of health professions, including all specialties of medicine and surgery, nursing, psychology, dentistry, pharmacy, pharmacology, epidemiology, biostatistics, allied health sciences, biomedical engineering and other postdoctoral professionals.  

EFFORT:  All KL2 Scholars will dedicate 75% effort through their UT Health Science Center Department to participate in a two-year program that includes both didactic and practical research training.  Candidates who are dually employed by the Health Science Center and the Veterans Administration may be restricted from the KL2 Scholar award because federal salaries cannot be considered part of the 75% KL2 institutional commitment.

PROGRAM ACTIVITIES:

  • Mentored Research.  KL2 Scholars must submit a research proposal in their chosen field of study, including selection of research Mentor(s), as part of the competitive admission process for the KL2 Program.  The research Mentor(s), who must have expertise in the Scholar’s area of research and a history of successful mentoring, provide opportunities for the trainee to conduct the research project and oversight of the Scholar’s research career development.  Support and guidance are provided to facilitate the progress of the research results toward publications and professional presentations, with the goal of grant submissions, grant awards, and independence as a research investigator. 
  • Managing Career Development and Team Building in Clinical and Translational Science Research (Seminar Series). A year-round, twice monthly two-hour seminar is focused on the organizational aspects of research teams, both being a team member and a team leader. This program promotes focused, small-group deliberations of important components in career development toward becoming a successful independent investigator in clinical and translational science.  The objectives of this seminar series are:
    • To interface with peers relative to progress and plans for publications and grants.
    • To complete designated readings for discussions relative to career development and career transitions.
    • To participate in discussions with academically successful research investigators.

    Scholars are given the opportunity to learn from funded investigators: how to develop an investigator-initiated grant, how to move from being a trainee to an independent researcher working in multi- and interdisciplinary teams, how to deal with setbacks and successes in a research career, and how to set priorities, think and write clearly, and accomplish goals.

  • Focus On Research Grant Excellence (FORGE) Seminars.  FORGE seminars are designed to facilitate the successful transition of KL2 Scholars into independent investigators via a subset of sessions in the Managing Career Development and Team Building seminar series. This forum consists of interactive meetings between the KL2 Scholars, the mentors when appropriate, and the KL2 Directors, and provides a forum for KL2 Scholars to describe their research progress and to receive advice regarding continued progress towards individualized career development goals. Preliminary data are presented, draft proposals critiqued, problems discussed, and suggestions made to resolve roadblocks that may occur and impede research and career development. The FORGE Seminars require each scholar to produce a career development award application (e.g., K08, K23, VA, American Heart Association) or grant application (e.g., R21, R01). These meetings are designed to enhance the sense of community among researchers within the UT Health Science Center, allowing people to share ideas and strategies with persons outside their discipline. This cross fertilization potentiates the development of new insights into each other’s work. The rotation schedule guarantees that each KL2 Scholar presents their work and progress every 2-3 months.
  • Scholar/Director Meetings.  Monthly meetings are held between the Scholars and Program Directors to facilitate the successful transition of the Scholars into independent investigators. Objectives of these meetings are to:
    • Ensure an adequate regular opportunity for meaningful (one-on-one) interactions between Scholars and Directors.
    • Regularly assess Scholar progress toward publications, grant applications, and other career development activities.
    • Identify concerns regarding mentorship, research plans, resources, or career development.
    • Provide a forum for open discussion of sensitive/difficult topics.
  • Didactic Training.  Each KL2 Scholar receives individualized recommendations for didactic training based on need and interest and as related to their research and career development plans. This training can take several forms including enrollment in: 1) selected courses from the MSCI program or other GSBS courses; 2) continuing education courses; or 3) short/concentrated courses in areas of expertise. These educational resources are used to individualize the formal training for each scholar and enhance their capacity to excel in their chosen research.
  • Continuing Support.  During the two-year program, scholars are guided to complete an application for an individual career development award or research grant. If needed, KL2 Scholar salary support may be extended for an optional third year via institutional funds, contingent on satisfactory progress made in regular reviews.