STARS TL1

Overview of the Program

The translational science lifecycle combines disciplines, resources, expertise, and techniques to improve prevention, diagnostics, therapeutics, and ultimately health. To succeed in this transdisciplinary field requires distinctive skills, including a deep appreciation of multiple domains, a team science outlook, and an aptitude for cross-discipline communication. The rationale for this new TL1 program is to provide the necessary predoctoral and postdoctoral training to produce scientists with these requisite skills. Our conceptual framework organizes the translational continuum into three Spheres of Translation Across the Research Spectrum (STARS):

Discovery emphasizes: mechanism studies, improved disease characterization, gene finding, personalized treatment, disease monitoring, drug discovery, drug delivery, novel algorithm development and discovery software.

Demonstration emphasizes: clinical trials, the development of tools for clinical and population decision making, the development of best practices, and the implementation of evidence-based research into clinical settings.

Dissemination emphasizes: risk communication, visual design, comparative effectiveness research, patient-provider communication, bioethics, and translation to population health.

Our program faculty include leaders in methods development, a vital component to driving innovation and paradigm shifts in the translational realm, including faculty from Biostatistics, Bioengineering, Epidemiology, and the Research Design Unit of the Utah CCTS.

Trainees emerging from this program will carry with them a unique set of skills and the expertise to succeed in their chosen focus and achieve their career aspirations 

Program Details:

Each trainee will be required to have a primary and secondary mentors from two different spheres. The list of mentors is found below. Mentors not included in these lists may also be eligible to participate in the program.

Training will include translational science, team science, entrepreneurship, community engagement, ethics, grant and manuscript writing, communication, management, and leadership development. Additionally, trainees will receive holistic mentoring and career guidance. create a cadre of scholars with commanding knowledge and experiences across all three translational spheres, and a deep commitment to transdisciplinary team science; thereby producing a new generation of scientists with strategic translational emphases whose breadth of knowledge and ability to communicate across the STARS will increase transdisciplinary cross-fertilization, accelerating healthcare advances.   

Program Requirements:

  1. Dual-Mentored Research: Each Trainee is required to participate in dual-mentored research with at     least one mentor from two spheres and should spend time in both mentors research space.
  2. Seminars related to primary and secondary sphere Trainees will be required to attend seminars related to their research interests in the two spheres.
  3. Seminar Attendance: Trainees will be required to attend the ‘STARS Conference’ and ‘What is?’ Seminar. The STARS conference is designed to guide students from trainee to translational scholar in a constructive and supportive environment. The presentations from trainees and mentors will be a combination of research in progress seminars, immersion reports/discussions, journal club discussions, and chalk talks. This course will provide trainees the opportunity to be exposed to research across all three spheres and successful demonstration of team science, and to receive feedback from leadership, faculty, and other trainees. The What is? Seminar brings together program faculty, other experts across the UU campus, and visiting scholars who will present an educational perspective of their research/expertise area. This course will provide training on diverse translational topics across the continuum.
  4. Translational Training Retreat and Translational Medicine Symposium:Trainees will be expected to attend and present at these events.
  5. Mentoring Team: Trainees will be expected to organize and meet with a mentoring team consisting of 2 scientific mentors (from 2 spheres), a near-peer mentor (junior faculty aligned with their interests), and will be assigned an administrative mentor (from the training grant leadership).
  6. Individual Development Plan (IDP): Trainees are expected to complete an IDP and review the IDP with their mentoring team.
  7. Immersions (2 x 10-hour): The goal of immersions is to use experiential learning to add translational breadth. All trainees are required to undertake two immersions (10-hour minimum per immersion, to include at least two of the four immersion types) in the Spring/Summer semesters. Immersions opportunities include clinical, laboratory (wet or dry), externships, and entrepreneurial opportunities.
  8. Coursework: All trainees will be required to supplement their current training with additional coursework, depending on the trainee background. One course in grant writing is required. Additional courses that may be of interest are shown in Table 1. Additional courses that are not listed may also be appropriate for this program.
  9. STARS-bridge Proposal: Working with primary and secondary scientific mentors, trainees will write a three-page report articulating how their primary research project could connect to a secondary sphere in future research. The goal of this project is to provide example-based, hands-on exploration of the opportunities and specifics to bridging translational domains. This short report also provides a concrete experience in team science within the mentoring model. Required for all trainees in Summer semester year 1.
  10. Leadership and Career Development and Management I & II (1.0 CR each):This new two-semester course will help trainees identify and understand their values, strengths, and professional identity; and to apply those factors to improve their impact through their research. Leadership and career development topics include: value identification; networking and knowing one’s message; relating well to peers, leaders, and staff; and how to use skills and goals to have an impact. Career guidance and management training includes: communication skills (elevator pitches, presentations, job talks), negotiation, resilience, and project management (planning, budgeting, staffing, giving feedback).
  11. Clinical and Community Outreach: At the conclusion of their two-year training, trainees will present their research at appropriate clinical grand rounds or Science Café. The Science Café is a Utah CCTS initiative that brings scientific and clinical experts into the community to discuss strategies to promote health and addresses a topic of study facilitated by the Utah CCTS.
  12. Responsible Conduct of Research: All trainees are required to complete Responsible Conduct of Research Training MDCRC6430 (Bioethical Issues in Clinical Research) offered through the CCTS.
  13. Program Evaluations: Trainees will be required to fill out biannual evaluation surveys.