iRISE Translational Research Scholars Program

The purpose of the iRISE Translational Research Scholars Program is to provide the next generation of clinical and translational researchers with rigorous training and career development so that an interprofessional workforce educated in concepts of health equity is able to advance science and help address health disparities.

Goals

  • Supply postdoctoral scholars with rigorous training in clinical and translational science so they are prepared to tackle important research problems either as independent researchers in academia or as research scientists in pharmaceutical, biomedical technology, or health services-related fields.
  • Ensure that scholars are well grounded in essential concepts related to biostatistical analysis and use of biomedical informatics resources.
  • Provide postdoctoral scholars with an in-depth understanding of health and health care disparities: how disparities prevent individuals from realizing their full potential, and how translational scientists in partnership with engaged communities can identify opportunities for reducing or eliminating disparities.
  • Instill postdoctoral scholars with a career vision that values interprofessional interaction and team science so that innovative and effective clinical and translational research will flourish.

Overview

All iRISE Scholars will be supervised and mentored by a member of the Faculty. All Scholars must have a doctoral degree (e.g., MD, DO, PhD, DDS, PharmD, DNP, AuD, or others) from an accredited domestic or foreign institution and must be in their first three years of their tenure as a postdoctoral fellow, Instructor, or Assistant Professor at UTHSC or an affiliated institution. Typically candidates at the Assistant Professor level will be Scholars in disciplines that do not have traditional fellowship programs (e.g., biostatistics, nursing, epidemiology, occupational therapy, etc.). Candidates must not have a pending or awarded NIH K-award or major independent research award (e.g., R01). For Scholars in a clinical postdoctoral fellowship, Awards would typically start in the second year after the majority of clinical training has been completed. Awards will be for a minimum planned duration of two years with an option for a third year based on need, progress, and the promise of further benefit.

Elements

Research

It is expected that Scholars will spend a minimum of 75% of their effort on mentored research and as much as 95%, in some cases. Scholars will decide on a research project in advance and a description of this project and the proposed career development activities related to it will form the core of the application for inclusion in the Program. It is expected that Scholars will require additional training both in technical and intellectual aspects of research in their particular field. It is expected that the Mentor will have significant input into the content and direction of the research project initially. By the end of the first year, however, the Scholar should be taking a lead role in the daily administration of the project and performing tasks and troubleshooting problems as they arise independently. In the second year and thereafter, the Scholar should be principally engaged in the planning of new research and proposing new avenues for exploration, concepts that may form the basis of an independent submission of either an NIH K-award or an independent research award such as an R01.

Coursework and advanced training

In many cases Scholars will engage in further formal training as part of their career development, in the form of coursework, workshops, or special seminars. Some Scholars may use this opportunity to obtain an advanced degree (e.g., Masters) in a specific discipline (e.g., epidemiology, public health, etc.) or certificate training (e.g., clinical investigation, QI, etc.) by completing one of the programs offered at UTHSC, University of Memphis, or through distance learning.

Individual and group mentoring

Mentoring is expected to be structured with both formal and informal interactions between Scholars and their primary Mentor. All Scholars must also have a Scholarship Oversight Committee (SOC).

Specific Activities

Three specific activities will be required for all Scholars in the UTHSC and iRISE Translational Research Scholars Training Program.

Scholar Development Program

A monthly program will focus on clinical and translational science skills training and knowledge acquisition, especially: biostatistics, bioinformatics, health disparities/equity, mentoring, grant writing, and grant opportunities, including a detailed curriculum on writing K-Awards. Scholars in the Training Program will attend monthly, 90-minute, small group sessions. Two Faculty will lead the discussion at each meeting for 10 of the months. In one meeting per year, outside faculty selected by the Scholars will be brought in to provide a seminar experience; the Scholars will make all arrangements for the visit and will join the visiting faculty for meals. The twelfth meeting of each year will be the Annual Retreat (see below).

Community outreach project

Scholars will engage in a collaborative, year-long community outreach project experience in each year of the Program. The project will change each year with planning for the specific context occurring in the late spring after identification of any new Scholars who will matriculate in July. The community outreach project will include group participation in the New Memphis Institute Memphis 101 class to provide a background on Memphis. The project itself will be a longitudinal experience with direct engagement of an underserved community.

The goals of the project are that by completion:

  1. Scholars will have improved their knowledge of the Memphis community and the challenges it faces.
  2. Scholars will have a better appreciation of health and health care disparities and how chronic (and generational) disparities in access to essential programs and services may drive poor health outcomes.
  3. Scholars will develop team-building skills and closer interpersonal and interprofessional relationships within a community program that includes a diverse group of health science researchers.

Annual Scholars Retreat

In May of each year the Training Program will have a half-day retreat at a local venue for Scholars and Faculty plus all associated and interested parties. This will replace the monthly meeting described above. At the retreat, each Scholar will present work-in-progress as a 30 minute seminar. The team as a whole will present and discuss their community outreach experience. The PD will present an overview of the Program and relevant metrics and will solicit input from the Faculty and Scholars in an open discussion.

Read next: Faculty Description