Training and Research Academy for Clinical and Translational Science (TRACTS)

Program Overview

The Training and Research Academy for Clinical and Translational Science (TRACTS) is a two-year, tuition-funded mentored training program for faculty and senior fellows at the University of Florida who have a passion to pursue clinical/ translational research in the health sciences as a major component of their careers. TRACTS is designed to provide individuals with sufficient research experience, didactic knowledge and publishable research outcomes to be competitive for a K-level (NIH) mentored research award or equivalent. Scholars are required to develop and conduct, with the guidance of their mentor(s), a research project that is patient-oriented, human-subject related (as defined by the NIH K award description and generally requiring IRB-01 approval) and translational in nature. This research emphasis includes population science, studies involving established publically accessible research databases, and surveys or studies of volunteer non-patient participants.

The TRACTS model represents a significant change to a long-standing program formerly known as the Advanced Postgraduate Program in Clinical Investigation (APPCI), which was originally supported through the NIH Clinical Research Curriculum Award (K30) program from 1999-2009. Under the CTSI since 2009, the program was refocused, reconfigured and renamed in 2014 as TRACTS to specifically target research-oriented junior faculty with high potential for a productive clinical/ translational research career. TRACTS will be most helpful for those faculty on track for a mentored career award (K or equivalent) within the next few years.

Benefits

TRACTS Scholars receive tuition for core coursework and up to 30 credit hours total (including core courses) toward a Master of Science with a concentration in Clinical/Translational Science (M.S.-CTS). Participants in TRACTS also receive oversight of course and research progress by the TRACTS Advisory Committee, pre-review of their grant applications, statistical support through the Clinical and Translational Science Institute’s (CTSI) Research Design and Analysis Program (RDAP) and opportunities for collaboration with other research scholars.

Eligibility

Candidates must be junior faculty with a full-time appointment within a UF department, or a fellow or post-doc who will be appointed to a full-time faculty position at the University of Florida upon completion of training. Candidates must have completed their health professions doctoral degree (e.g., M.D., D.O., D.D.S., D.M.D., O.D., D.C., Pharm.D., etc.), and be in a research-supported track of their specialty or subspecialty training program and within three years of their first appointment as a member of the faculty at UF. Candidates with Ph.D. or another doctoral degree in a clinical discipline such as clinical psychology, nursing, clinical genetics, speech-language pathology, audiology or rehabilitation are also eligible.

Although U.S. citizenship is not required, the candidate must be able to demonstrate that he/she will be eligible for U.S. career development grants at the time of completion of the program. Individuals on student visas are not eligible. Former PD/PIs on NIH research project (R01), program project (P01), center grants, FIRST Awards (R29), sub-projects of program project (P01) or center grants, other career development awards (K–awards), or the equivalent are not eligible. Former PD/PIs of an NIH Small Grant (R03), Exploratory/Developmental Grant (R21), Dissertation Awards (R36), or SBIR/STTR (R41, R42, R43, R44) remain eligible.

Mentorship

Each Scholar will have a minimum of two mentors; a primary research mentor who will be an experienced researcher and mentor with current extramural research function and a departmental/division mentor-advisor. The candidate must identify the departmental/division mentor-advisor but does not have to name a proposed research mentor at the time of application. The departmental/division mentor-advisor will be a part of the candidate’s mentor team and will serve as the nominee’s resource for negotiating time and effort as well as advising and assisting with the development of the nominee’s research efforts. The departmental/division mentor-advisor should have some clinical/translational research experience but is not required to have current extramural funding. The nominee’s Division Chief or Program may be the mentor-advisor. In some cases the mentor-advisor may also be a research mentor.

The Advisory Committee will work with the scholar to identify the best research mentor or mentors who may be from different departments than the scholar. The final mentor team will support and advise the scholar, oversee the scholar’s research efforts and monitor progress in didactic coursework, publications, and grant applications.

Program Requirements

TRACTS Scholars must meet the following program requirements:

  • 20 hours per week dedicated time from his or her department/division to pursue MS coursework and conduct the approved research study, and to attend other Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) multidisciplinary workshops and seminars
  • Participation in the CTSI Practicum Experience (in development)
  • Submission and publication of at least two manuscripts based on the TRACTS research project by the end of year two
  • Attendance and presentation at the annual CTSI Research Day
  • Completion of progress reports every six months
  • In accordance with NIH requirements:
    • All presentations and publications resulting from work undertaken as a TRACTS Scholar must include an NIH funding citation. The following language should be used: This work is supported in part by the NIH/NCATS Clinical and Translational Science Award to the University of Florida UL1 TR000064.
    • Electronic versions of any peer-reviewed manuscripts arising from work undertaken as a TRACTS Scholar and accepted for publication must be deposited in PubMed Central, the NIH’s digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature. See http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-08-033.html.

Acceptance into TRACTS

Individuals accepted into TRACTS will have one or more meetings with the TRACTS Advisory Committee to discuss mentorship, refine their proposed area of research, develop a training program plan, and apply to the Master of Science in Medical Science with a Concentration in Clinical/Translational Science (M.S.-CTS).

The TRACTS Advisory Committee, with the departmental/division mentor-advisor, will propose one or more research mentors for each TRACTS Scholar. Research mentors must have the following qualifications:

  • The primary research mentor is required to have current extramural funding, including an existing funded research portfolio upon which the applicant’s research project can be built.
  • The research mentors should have expertise in the one or more aspect of the area(s) of proposed TRACTS research.

Once mentorship is established and approved by the TRACTS Advisory Committee, new TRACTS Scholars will have six months to develop a research project for submission to the Advisory Committee for approval:

  • The research project must be developed with the Scholar’s mentor team, and with support from within the primary mentor’s current research activities.
  • A CTSI Research Design and Analysis Program (RDAP) statistician must be consulted during project development and throughout the project completion. Such statistical consultation is available for TRACTS Scholars at no charge.
  • The research project should be one that can be completed within the two-year timeframe of TRACTS participation.
  • The research project should be designed as a pilot project to provide findings and background that will position the nominee for success in achieving a career-development grant, equivalent to the NIH K award.
  • The research project must be clinical/translational in focus.
  • The proposed research project must result in peer-reviewed publications and will be the basis for the M.S.-CTS thesis. While the M.S.-CTS didactic coursework will be started during TRACTS, completion may be planned for the subsequent K award funding period to fulfill the training requirements of the mentored career development award.
  • The TRACTS Advisory Committee will provide final project approval.

Nomination Process

Nominations to TRACTS are made by Department Chairs. The nomination and selection process has three steps:

Step 1: Department Nomination Packet

The Department Nomination Packet is submitted to the TRACTS Advisory committee. Department chairs should work with nominees to prepare and submit via email a complete nomination package by 5 p.m. on March 28, 2014. Please refer to the Nomination Form and Instructions for complete details. Nomination packages should include:

  1. A letter from the nominating chair that:
    • *Explains why the chair has selected this individual for nomination to the TRACTS and affirms that the pursuit of research is of value to the nominee’s department and is recognized as an integral part of the nominee’s career. (For nominees currently in a fellowship position, please verify that the individual has a post-fellowship faculty position commitment from the department.)
    • *Outlines how many hours per week the candidate currently spends on clinical service, teaching, administration and research
    • *States a guarantee of 20 hours per week protected time for didactics and research, and verifies salary support during the two-year program
    • *Offers support for travel to one national meeting (during the program) for the nominee to present his/her research findings
  2. A letter from the nominee describing his/her research career goals and why TRACTS will be important in achieving those goals
  3. A nominee demographic page
  4. A brief (one page) description of the nominee’s area of research, including (but not limited to):
    • *Brief background and significance of the research area
    • *Prior work performed in this research area by the nominee or others
    • *Possible funding source(s) for a fully developed project
  5. The nominee’s current CV
  6. The name of a proposed departmental/division mentor-advisor for the nominee

Step 2: Advisory Committee Review

The TRACTS Advisory Committee will review all nominations and will extend interview invitations to nominees whose interests and credentials are most closely aligned with the program’s purpose.

Selection criteria:

  • A successful candidate must have the potential to develop as an independent and productive researcher focusing on patient-oriented research.
  • Candidates should demonstrate a record of high-quality academic, clinical, and (if relevant) research achievement, including peer-reviewed publications.
  • Prior success in obtaining extramural research funding is desirable.
  • The candidate’s chair must provide a nomination letter that demonstrates evidence that the nominee has high potential and sufficient funding and professional support during and after participation in the program.
  • The candidate must be able to complete the program within two years and apply for a mentored clinical research award or the equivalent during the program.

Step 3: Interview with the Advisory Committee

The selected nominees will meet with the TRACTS Advisory Committee to determine their potential for research productivity, need for training and mentoring, and feasibility of completion of a meaningful pilot project and K-level grant application through participation in TRACTS. The Advisory Committee will select TRACTS Scholars based on the written information provided by the department and the nominee, and through the interview process.

Definitions

  • Patient-Oriented Research: For the purposes of the NIH K23 award, Patient-Oriented Research is defined as research conducted with human subjects (or on material of human origin such as tissues, specimens and cognitive phenomena) for which an investigator directly interacts with human subjects. This area of research includes: 1) mechanisms of human disease; 2) therapeutic interventions; 3) clinical trials; and 4) the development of new technologies. Excluded from this definition are in vitro studies that utilize human tissues but do not deal directly with patients. In other words, patient-oriented research is research in which it is necessary to know the identity of the patients from whom the cells or tissues under study are derived. Studies falling under Exemption 4 for human subjects research are not included in this definition. See also the NIH Directors Panel on Clinical Research Report.

TRACTS Scholars

The CTSI anticipates naming the first cohort of TRACTS Scholars in the spring of 2014.

Current APPCI Scholars will continue under the APPCI program model.

Contacts for Questions

  • Eve Johnson, M.A., Training and Professional Development Program Coordinator
    (eve11@ufl.edu, 352-284-7642)
  • Kristina Birnbrauer, M.A., TRACTS Program Coordinator (kbirnbrauer@ufl.edu)
  • Ron Shorr, M.D., M.S., TRACTS Program Director (rshorr@ufl.edu)