KL2 Scholars Program

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  • About the Program

    The successful competitive renewal of our Clinical and Translational Science Award from the NIH National Center for Advancing Clinical and Translational Science (NCATS) to the Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science (GHUCCTS) enables us to continue our KL2 career development program.  In our first ten years, we have been privileged to support 18 junior faculty colleagues from Georgetown and Howard Universities and from MedStar Health, who have leveraged this support in order to publish >500 peer-reviewed manuscripts, receive over 50 extramural grants and conduct 30 sponsored clinical trials.

    This K-series career  development award  is  nearly identical to our previous KL2 awards and analogous to individual K23, K08, or K01 awards, with a focus on developing early-career (MD or equivalent; doctorally-trained  nurses, pharmacists or dentists; and clinically or translationally-oriented  PhD)  faculty  investigators  through  an  inter- or multi-disciplinary  mentored  research experience so that they can become independent, extramurally-funded investigators. Given the goals of the GHUCCTS, awards will favor those: 1) who propose novel trans-, inter-, or multi-disciplinary and collaborative/team research projects, 2) from the entire T1-T4 translational continuum, 3) which span departments, disciplines, and institutions, and 4) address significant health disparities.

    The program requires a documented commitment of 75% protected time for research and career development activities and will provide salary support (up to $90,000 of salary, supplemented by fringe benefits). In addition, we anticipate that the program will provide up to $40,000/year to support research and training. We anticipate that support will be provided for up to 3 years; with 2 years by GHUCCTS (based on documented progress and continued promise of the scholar), and 1 year provided by the sponsoring department or institution.  

    KL2 Scholars will be expected to submit individual K- or R-series (R01, R21 applications or their equivalent) applications within 2 years of the award and, if successful, must then be provided with a firm continued commitment of 75% protected time and salary from their sponsoring departments (i.e., for at least 5 years from the date of original appointment to the KL2 or for duration of the R-series award, whichever is shorter) in order to ensure their success.

    We envision an interactive, and mentored process for application development, over the coming 2 months, so that the application will be responsive to this RFA and the mentor-mentee relationship will have already been proven productive. This application and review process should enable us to appoint KL2 awardees in June 2021 (or later as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves).  We encourage potential applicants to contact us as soon as possible to clarify requirements and suitability of this support mechanism for your career development goals.

    Inquiries can be made to Ms. Cyndi Campbell, MBA or to any member of the KL2 Executive Committee (Jason G. Umans, MD, Ph.D.Kathryn Sandberg, Ph.D. or Charles D. Howell, MD)

    Summary of KL2's top accomplishments from the past 10 years

  • Requirements & Eligibility


    • All candidates must be US citizens, Non-Citizen Nationals, or Permanent Residents
    • All candidates must have a full-time faculty or equivalent appointment at a GHUCCTS institution (Georgetown University, Howard University, or MedStar Health) at the time of award activation
    • Must devote 75% effort to the program for a full 3 years (will consider 50% effort, with prior consultation and approval, in accord with NIH guidelines, for some surgeons or procedural subspecialists). The applicant, mentors, and relevant department chairs/chiefs will need to describe and ensure how the plan for protected time will be implemented and enforced
    • Individuals who were, or currently are Principal Investigator of NIH R01, P01 or P50 subprojects, or individual K (e.g., K01, K08, K22, K23) grants/awards ARE NOT eligible. Likewise, current/former PIs of non-NIH peer-reviewed research grants >$100k annual direct costs are ineligible. By contrast, applicants may have (or continue to) served as PI on R03, R21, or SBIR/STTR grants. 
    • Awarded projects that involve Human Subjects or live vertebrate animals must obtain NCATS approval before the research can start. The process requires that all the regulatory approvals be in place, and may take 30 days or more. For more information, visit the NCATS website.
  • Application Process

    Pre-Application due (Current Cycle Closed)

    Pre-Application Form here

    Final Application due (Current Cycle Closed)

    • A 6-10 page research proposal for the major research project, describing three (3) years of work. Using the PH398 (current  R01) format, including: specific aims page, significance, innovation, and approach, providing background, major experimental or study details, with attention to feasibility, available resources and collaborations, and plans for subsequent work. While the focus is on the major research project, please describe other planned research activities and sources of support required for their completion in order to account for 75% FTE that will be devoted to the K award.
    • A brief (1-3 page) plan describing a subsequent individual K award application or R01 application that would be submitted in year 1 (usually an individual K-series application) or 2 (usually an R01 application) of the KL2 period of support and how that application would be made more competitive by prior KL2 support and training. 
    • A 1-page statement detailing 3-year and 5-year career plans as well as the specific role of this mentored research experience in achieving those goals, and the manner in which the project and mentorship plans will specifically advance multi- or inter-disciplinary research.  This statement should be aligned with your individual development plan (IDP) developed in collaboration with your mentors.
    • A 0.5-1-page lay summary of your proposal, including its potential impact on relevant patient populations (especially if understudied), communities, and suitable for sharing with interested lay advisory groups.
    • A 3-4 page proposal detailing the plan and rationale for specific didactic training and career development activities to supplement and enhance the mentored research experience. In particular, please provide a critical self-appraisal of current skills and needs for further training with respect to the core competencies for translational investigators identified by NCATS. If a specific degree or certificate program is proposed, please provide details and rationale. We encourage applicants to consider including coursework from the GHUCCTS MS program in Clinical and Translational research in the didactic educational plan if appropriate. If specific courses, workshops, internship, externships (e.g., with industry, federal agencies, or stakeholder organizations), or tutorial experiences are proposed, please provide details and rationale.
    • NIH biosketch (in current format) for the applicant and each mentor
    • A three-year detailed budget & budget justification (using NIH’s FP4 & FP5 forms)
    • A detailed letter from the department chair (co-signed by any other relevant responsible official) endorsing and appraising the applicant and the application, as well as outlining the department’s plan for, and commitment to, the applicant. LETTER MUST INCLUDE:
        • Specific plan that guarantees 75% protected time from day 1 of KL2 support
        • Details of all past and current institutional research support (e.g., protected time, research funds, non-monetary resources) provided to the applicant and assurance that prior commitments will be honored without any offset by the KL2 award or any new KL2-related commitments in years 1-3
        • Plans for additional/continued institutional research support during the 3 years as a KL2 scholar including source(s) of funds to support salary and research expenses during one of the three years as a KL2 scholar
        • Details regarding provision of, or access to adequate research facilities, ancillary, or core resources required for the proposed research
        • Details regarding ALL anticipated clinical, teaching, administrative, or other  activities  which might be reasonably construed as either extraneous to (or competing with) research career development
        • Commitment to continue this support for 5 years (from the date of initial appointment) if the applicant transitions successfully to an individual K-series or R01/R21 award following the period of KL2 support.
    • A letter from the mentor(s). LETTER MUST INCLUDE:
        • KL2 awards, the career aims, the training experiences, and the mentorship needs are, by definition, discipline-spanning and collaborative. Therefore, all applicants must propose dual or team mentorship, with input that spans disciplines and/or stages of research translation. Explaining the rationale, focus, content, and feasibility of the mentoring plan will be a key review criterion.
        • Mentors letters can be written individually, or all mentors may contribute to a single letter which, however, must delineate each of their roles as well as the plan for coordinated joint mentorship
        • Detailed commitment to the applicant
        • Their contributions to development of the research project
        • Their plans for interacting with the applicant over the next 3 years, as well as an appraisal of the applicant’s likelihood of productivity and success in transitioning to research independence.
    • One to two additional letters of support by senior faculty familiar with the applicant’s current work and accomplishment and able to evaluate the likelihood of success, defined by the transition to individual and collaborative extramural research funding as well as the need for further mentored research training.

    Mentor QualificationsMentors must interact closely with the scholar, and should have research expertise and experience relevant to the proposed career development program. Mentors must be committed to continue their involvement throughout the total period of the scholar’s career development under this award. Each Scholar candidate appointed in the program award must have a primary mentor, preferably from a GHUCCTS institution, who: (1) has a track record of successful and sustained federal (i.e., NIH, AHRQ, CDC, FDA, DOD, HRSA or VA) research funding, (2) has the research resources (including funding, facilities, space, collaborations, access to key populations, technologies, and reagents) which will be available to the scholar to ensure productivity, and 3) has a track record of successful mentorship of trainees who have gone on to productive independent or collaborative academic careers. The mentor must be committed to continue this involvement throughout the candidate's total period of development under the award. Secondary or joint mentors should be similarly committed to the scholar’s career development, but provide complementary perspectives, guidance, and support. While at least two mentors are required, there is no limit to the size or composition of the mentoring team. In each case, the mentoring team must clarify the roles of each member and how they will function together for the scholar’s benefit. Further, we require that joint mentors be expert in demonstrably-differing disciplines or specialties than the primary mentor or focus their research in differing parts of the clinical-translational research continuum (T1-T4).  The applicant and mentors must explain the rationale for selection of the mentoring team and how it will function to guide the applicant to independent funding, translational research productivity, a training and career development direction that favors discipline-spanning collaborative team science, and successful academic career development.

    Regulatory Requirements:

    Research Compliance
    • Human Subjects Research projects need to have IRB approval. If applicable, proof of any Exempt or Non-Human Subjects Research Status must be provided.
    • Animal Research projects need to have IACUC (or equivalent) approval.
    • Documentation of Research Ethics and Compliance Training (CITI training Certificates).

    NCATS Prior Approval Requirements & Instructions | Download Checklist


    Award Notification:

    • Anticipated award notification and start date:

    Download RFA

  • Scholars and Alumni

    Headshot of GHUCCTS KL2 Scholar Maurice FluittMaurice B. Fluitt, PhD is Assistant Professor at the Howard University College of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism. He will investigate the role “MicroRNAs as Early Markers and Mediators of Diabetic Kidney Disease”. Dr. Fluitt is investigating the use of microRNAs as early predictive biomarkers and mediators of autophagic response in diabetic kidney disease. Dr. Fluitt previously completed his PhD at Howard and a GHUCCTS TL1-supported postdoctoral fellowship at Georgetown. He is only our second TL1 scholar to progress to a KL2 award. His multidisciplinary and multiinstitutional  mentoring team is led by Dr. Ben Afzali (Immunoregulation Section, Kidney Disease Branch, NIDDK), and includes Drs. Gail Nunlee-Bland and Hassan Ashktorab (Howard University), Dr. Carolyn Ecelbarger (Georgetown), and Dr. Alison Kriegel (Department of Physiology, Medical College of Wisconsin).

    Headshot of GHUCCTS KL2 Scholar Roxanne Mirabel-BeltranRoxanne Mirabal-Beltran, PhD, RN, is Assistant Professor in the Department of Professional Nursing Practice at the Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies. Her community-based, participatory research primarily focuses on the “Impact of a Fertility and Pregnancy Educational Intervention in an Urban Setting on Women’s Knowledge Level of Fertility, Pregnancy, and Health-Seeking Behaviors to Build a Culture of Health". She is investigating the effect of an educational intervention on maternal healthcare knowledge level of women living in DC’s Ward 5 and the feasibility of delivering this intervention in community laundromats. Her mentoring team is led by Drs. Laura Linnan (Department of Health Behavior, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina) and Linda Gallo (Department of Psychology, San Diego State University where she co-leads the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos). Her mentoring team includes Drs. Jane Fall-Dickson (Department of Professional Nursing Practice, School of Nursing and Health Studies) and Alejandra Hurtado de Mendoza Casaus (Cancer Prevention and Control Program, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, and a former KL2 scholar), both at Georgetown.

    Headshot of GHUCCTS KL2 Scholar Dr. Kaiyan HeHaiyan He, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at Georgetown University will work on “A novel protein-degradation-based mechanism for fast homeostatic plasticity and its implication in neurodegenerative diseases.” Dr. He is investigating the in vivo function of a newly discovered neuronal membrane-associated proteasome as a fast-homeostatic mechanism and its potential link to neurodegenerative diseases. She is mentored by Dr. Seth Margolis from the Departments of Biological Chemistry and Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine with co-mentorship by Drs. Dan Pak, Brent Harris, and Kathy Maguire-Zeiss, at Georgetown University Medical Center.

    Annie Kruger headshot

    Annie J. Kruger, MD PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital will be researching “Mechanisms of Chemokine Antagonism in Generating Reparative Macrophages and Inhibiting Hepatic Stellate Cell Activity.” She is evaluating the effects of chemokine receptor 2 and 5 antagonists in decreasing the pro-inflammatory and pro-fibrotic activity of macrophages and stellate cells, respectively, in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, one of most prevalent liver diseases in the world today. She is mentored by Dr. Jill Smith from the Division of Gastroenterology at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and Dr. Fung-Lung Chung from the Department of Oncology at Georgetown University Medical Center.

    Katherine Michel headshotKatherine G. Michel, PhD MPH, Instructor of Medicine at Georgetown University will work on “Quantifying immune functionality and crosstalk with the cervicovaginal microbiome among women who naturally control HIV infection”. She seeks to understand the complex relationship between mucosal microbiota and the immune system among women living with HIV, to refine HIV therapeutics and prevention as well as improve women’s health. She is mentored by Drs. Seble Kassaye and Dan Merenstein from the DC MACS/WIHS Combined Cohort Study and the Georgetown University Medical Center; Jacques Ravel at the University of Maryland; Daniel Douek at NIAID and the Vaccine Research Center, and Adam Ratner at New York University.

    KL2 Scholar Alumni

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