Letters to the Editor
To the Editor:
How can a medical school maximize the benefits of an NIH Clinical and Translation Science Award (CTSA)*? We advocate the creation of a “K-community of investigators” to span the continuum of training from fellowship through the KL2/K12 programs to individual K-awards.† A first step toward this goal would be to survey the K-awardees about their needs. For example, do they need help with issues related to IRBs? Do they need statistical support? Do they need funds for travel and supplies? Once the survey results are in, it would be important to ensure that the resources that awardees highlighted are available to them, perhaps through a small-grants program and other services.
We believe such an approach would be more effective than simply concentrating a school's resources on CTSA K-awardees only. First, the amount of resources that individual KL2-awardees need is extensive, and the types of resources are similar. Second, the idea behind a community of investigators is to create a supportive environment for all the young investigators at a school, not just those who receive KL2 support. Third, another aspect of the community approach is the recognition that trainees often learn from each other by hearing about each others' projects, reviewing them, and being aware of each others' errors and successes.
We have put the above ideas into practice at Boston University School of Medicine since 2009, when we surveyed our K-awardees about their research needs. Our experience to date shows that this approach, which continues to evolve, is working. We urge other schools with CTSA program awards to consider creating their own communities of K-investigators.
Howard Bauchner, MD
Professor of pediatrics and public health, Boston University School of Medicine/Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts; firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Felson, MD, MPH
Professor of medicine and epidemiology, Boston University School of Medicine/Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts.
David Center, MD, PhD
Professor of medicine and principal investigator, CTSI, Boston University School of Medicine/Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts.
*Clinical and Translational Science Awards: Translating Discoveries to Medical Practice. Available at: http://www.ctsaweb.org. Accessed August 25, 2010.
†KL2-awards provide “protected time” for faculty members to conduct research and are provided under the auspices of CTSA. K12-awards provide “protected time” for faculty members to conduct research and are available at various institutions, in specific areas, like women's health or child health. Individual K-awards provide “protected time” for faculty members to conduct research and are available from virtually all NIH institutes. KL2 and K12 support is available for two to three years, and individual K-award support is available for three to five years.