Frequently Asked Questions About the TRI Career Development Scholars Program

For whom is the Program designed?

The TRI Career Development Scholars Program is designed for full time faculty with doctorates (M.D., Pharm.D., Dr.PH., D.O., etc.) who are committed to pursuing academic careers in multidisciplinary clinical or translational research.

What is the purpose of the Program?

The overall goal of the Program is to increase the number and quality of independently funded clinical and translational research investigators.

What is the difference between a KL2 Scholar and an Institutional Scholar? 

The TRI Career Development Scholars Program has two types of Scholars: KL2 Scholars and Institutional Scholars. KL2 Scholars receive their funding through the Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program (The CTSA is the main funding mechanism for TRI) and are officially associated with the NCATS. Institutional Scholars are funded through institutional resources and are not officially associated with NCATS.

All Scholars are treated equally. They are subject to same rules and requirements and are given the same opportunities.

All KL2 Scholar appointments are supported by CTSA funds for their first year and institutional funds for their second year.

How is translational research defined in this multidisciplinary training program?

The program’s intent is to support the early career development of translational researchers from a variety of disciplines engaged in all types of translational research.

TRI defines translational science as that which transforms scientific discoveries arising from laboratory, clinical, or population studies into clinical applications to reduce disease incidence, morbidity, and mortality. TRI conceptualizes translational research as occurring on a bi-directional continuum of T1 through T4 research that addresses human health questions and creates human health interventions.

Research may include patient oriented research, translational research, small and large-scale clinical investigation and trials, and epidemiologic and natural history studies.

How is the Program funded?

KL2 Scholars are funded through the KL2 Mentored Clinical Research Scholars program, which is a key component of the Clinical and Translational Science Award Program (CTSA) initiative.

Institutional Scholars are funded through institutional sources at our participating institutions.

Who are the participating institutions?

The schools and colleges of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (all campuses), Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Arkansas Children’s Research Institute, and Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System.

What is the duration of the training period?

The traditional training period is two years, but an optional third year extension is available on a case-by-case basis.

What are the benefits of the program?

Scholars will received 75 percent of their salary (up to $95,000, including fringe). If 75 percent salary exceeds $95,000, the college/department/division will need to support the balance. Scholars will also receive up to $25,000 per year for research, tuition, travel expenses and education materials in support of their career development plan.

What permissible work/education activities fall within the 75 percent protected time?

The protected time is for multidisciplinary clinical and translational research with training and mentoring activities.

May I negotiate to devote less than 75 percent effort?

In general, 75 percent of the scholars’ full-time professional effort must be devoted to the program to comply with NIH requirements. However, certain surgical specialties may request less than 75 percent, but no less than 50 percent, protected time for this program. Justification will require documentation that more than a 25 percent clinical commitment is required to avoid loss of competence or credentialing in specified clinical skills. Any applicant who is interested in applying while committing less than 75 percent effort for the academic aspects of the project should discuss their interests with the before applying.

I have another award that supports me for 75 percent of my research effort; can I retain that award while keeping the TRI Career Development Scholar Award?

No. Accepting the TRI Scholar Award indicates that the awardee accepts the entire award at 75 percent effort toward their TRI Scholar research proposal.

Are other federal grants (e.g., R01 or R21) allowed to support the remaining 25 percent salary not covered by the TRI Career Development Schoalr award?

Scholars may not concurrently receive salary support from other U.S. public health service sources (NIH, CDC, FDA, etc). Scholars may apply for individual K awards and, if successful, would negotiate adjustment of the TRI Scholarship support with approval from both TRI and the federal funder.  Please see the following link for more information: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/nihgps_2013/nihgps_ch12.htm

With pre-approval from the TRI (and NCATS for KL2 Scholars), Scholars may receive VA salary for clinical time. Most scholars will receive support from teaching or clinical activities. Non-awards and non-federal grants may also be used to support the remaining 25 percent effort. Grants from private foundations, voluntary organizations (e.g. American Heart Association, Cancer Society) and professional societies are all acceptable. Federal grants MAY supply additional research support, but not salary.

In general, any questions about grant support as a TRI Scholar should be addressed to Program leadership.

Can scholars apply for individual K Awards while in the program?

Scholars may apply for individual K awards and if successful, the TRI Scholar Award would be terminated and funding received from the new individual K award. Please see the following link for more information: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/nihgps_2013/nihgps_ch12.htm

The scholar’s non-supported effort must be devoted to activities related to the development of a successful clinical and translational research career.

Typically, these activities include clinical, administrative, and/or teaching efforts. The divisions/departments must not require extra duties or responsibilities that reduce the scholar’s protected time that would interfere with the purpose of the career development award.

What percentage of clinical time is allotted?

Depending on your other non-research responsibilities, you can devote up to 25 percent of your time to clinical activities.

Can I work on several research projects under my 75 percent protected time?

Yes. However, these research projects should be approved and be aligned with your overall research theme, objectives, and specific aims.

Do I need research mentors to apply?

Yes. TRI Scholars must have research mentors to apply to this program. The qualifications and commitment of the research mentors relative to the goals and objectives of the applicant is an important consideration in the review of TRI Career Development Scholar applications.

How do I select a mentor?

Scholars are responsible for recruiting their own mentors. Scholars should have one primary mentor as well as two or three other mentors on their mentoring team.  The program directors and staff are available to assist with this process.

Your mentor should be committed to helping you attain research and career development goals. For research this may include direct support of research studies, assistance in experimental design, analysis/interpretation of research results, preparation for formal presentations, manuscripts, and grant applications. For career development this may include notifying you of scholarships/awards/programs that may be of benefit to your career development, helping you network and build professional connections in your field of study, assistance with promotion and tenure, providing support and advice for long-term goal setting.

The strength of an applicant’s mentors will be an important factor in assessing his/her application for funding.

Will there be funding provided to potential mentors?

The primary mentor will receive salary support for 5 percent effort; other mentors do not receive support. This compensation is provided by TRI and is not part of your Scholar budget.

Is there a limit on time since completing postdoctoral training, or at what stage should prospective TRI Scholars be?

The TRI Career Development Scholars Program is designed for applicants who are early in their professional careers; typically within five years of completion of training. This award is not meant to serve as support for applicants already established in their field, nor is it meant to aid in a career change. Individuals who have achieved the rank of associate professor are not eligible. Scholars must hold a doctoral level degree. We are seeking individuals at an early stage of their career, even while they are in subspecialty training.

Do I have to have a faculty appointment?

Yes. At the time of the application, each potential TRI Career Development Scholar must be a faculty member and have the full support of their research mentor, home department, and school.

If I am a faculty with a VA appointment, does this limit my eligibility for the Program?

Possibly, depending upon the extent of commitment (percent effort) to the VA. Federal salaries cannot be considered as part of the Scholar commitment as federal salaries are separate appointments that are not included in the institutional appointment or payroll distribution. Thus, Scholars may NOT be supplemented with VA sources in a manner to meet the basic eligibility requirement of the award (75% of a fulltime appointment with the institution). Applicants with VA Appointments are encouraged to talk to the Program directors before submitting an application.

If I have applied for permanent resident status but have not yet received an alien registration card, am I eligible for the Program?

No. All Scholars must be a citizen or a non-citizen national of the United States or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence (i.e., possess a currently valid Permanent Resident Card USCIS Form I-551, or other legal verification of such status).

Are Scholars permitted to take courses?

Yes. Scholars are encouraged to take courses to supplement their individual backgrounds and research needs. This should be described in the training plan in the application

Is travel support available for those who wish to attend scientific meetings?

Each scholar is allocated up to $25,000 per year for research, tuition, travel expenses and education materials in support of the scholar’s career development plan. Scholars are expected to attend the annual Association for Clinical and Translational Science Conference and should factor the cost of this trip into their travel budget.

Am I eligible for the Program if I have already applied for another career development award (including a federal K award)?

Please consult with Program leadership regarding the timing of submission for TRI Career Development Scholars Program support in relation to other career development awards.