The ITS Career Development Program

Photo by Bill Branson

The ITS supports the Translational Research Scholars Career Development Program (ITS Scholars) and offers the Translational Research Scholars Program (TRSP) for ITS and other UTMB faculty.


The Translational Research Scholars Program (TRSP) prepares scientists to become independent investigators and improve understanding of disease mechanisms, prevention and treatment. Scholars from across the institution, form a peer group, and benefit from interactions within the group as they pursue the common goal of becoming skilled and funded researchers. The program focuses on preparing an initial successful grant application in a structured and mentored environment. It also provides more advanced training for success in funded research, productive grant management, and planning for a successful competitive renewal application. Scholars pursue individual, defined programs of education and skills development under the guidance of mentors of their own choosing. The process may also include earning a M.S. or Ph.D. degree through the Clinical Science Graduate Program. The endpoint of the program is attainment of independent funding from NIH or other funding agency. Collaborating Programs include various UTMB career development programs supported within UTMB departments as well as other NIH grant awards. These include the ITS Translational Research Scholars Career Development Program (NIH-KL2000072), UTMB Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH, NIH-K12HD052023), the Rehabilitation Research Career Development Program (NIH-K12HD052023), the UTMB Women’s Reproductive Health Research (WRHR) Career Development Center of Excellence (NIH-K12HD001269), and the UTMB Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center (NIH-P30AG024832). See the TRSP brochure, list of directors and participants, and seminar schedule for more information. Click here for: TRSP Scholar application or Associate Scholar application.


The ITS Translational Research Scholars Career Development (ITS Scholars) Program supports several young scholars by providing salary support and protecting at least 75% of effort for research career development.


The ITS Scholars Program will provide up to three years of NIH support for clinical and translational scientists and is comprised of two phases.

  • Phase 1 (Years 1-3) is designed to provide scholars with the foundation needed for a productive career in clinical and translational research. A Lead Mentor will be chosen and an individualized career development plan will be developed based on the scholar's past training and experience. The individualized plan will consist of 1) a structured didactic program focused on research methodology; 2) specialized courses and seminars; and 3) mentored grant writing experiences. In Phase 1, scholars will commit 75-100% time to research career development activities.
  • Phase 2 (Years 4-5), is the period of transition for ITS scholars to move into independent researcher positions and will no longer be directly supported by KL2 funding. Scholars will remain associated with the ITS Scholars program and will continue to receive mentorship from the Lead Mentor, and research team. The ITS Scholar program will take advantage of its extensive clinical and translational research network to negotiate faculty positions in research supportive environments.


Phase I ITS Scholars:

Sara Dann, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Microbiology & Immunology

Jonathan Hommel, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, Faculty in the Center for Addiction Research

Elizabeth A. Jaramillo, MD, Assistant Professor, Institute for Translational Sciences

Tammara L. Watts, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Otolaryngology, Division of Head & Neck

For more information, read the details below.


Phase II ITS Scholars:
Micah Drummond, PhD, Research Assistant Professor, University of Utah, Department of Physical Therapy, Salt Lake City, UT;  NIH Award: “Nutrient regulation of amino acid transporters in aging human skeletal muscle” NIA-K01AG038556, 01SEP2011-31AUG2015, PI: Drummond)

Celeste C. Finnerty, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery
Meera R. Gupta, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Internal Medicine-Allergy and Immunology
Konrad Pazdrak, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Iryna Pinchuk, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology NIH Award “Regulatory role of CD90+ stromal cells in Th1/Th17 activity in Crohn’s Disease” NIDDK-R01DK103150 (01JUL2014-30JUN2018, PI: Pinchuk)


Translational Research Scholars
Career Development Program

The Institute for Translational Sciences’ Translational Research Scholars Career Development (ITS Scholars) Program is an early mentored research career development program and a component of the UTMB Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) from NIH. The aim of the Program is to provide a mentored research experience leading to external funding of a research program in clinical and/or translational research relevant to the mission of the ITS, which is the home of the CTSA at UTMB. Four positions are funded by the KL2 component of the CTSA grant or by matching institutional funds provided to the ITS for up to 3 years or until a scholar secures independent funding. This annual application process is intended to fill vacant positions when they become available.

The Translational Research Scholars Program (TRSP) is an ITS-CTSA program and is a required part of the ITS Scholars Program, It is a series of seminars and workshops for junior faculty members preparing initial grant applications. Additional members of TRSP, numbering about 20, are supported by other sources such as other K12 programs or departmental funds. Many members of TRSP who do not have K12 support are strong candidates for KL2 support and are encouraged to apply.

Preference will be given to applicants who are ITS members and members of one of the ITS Multidisciplinary Translational Teams, as listed below and on the ITS web site:  

* Novel biomarkers and therapeutics in addictions and impulse control disorders
* Aging muscle and sarcopenia
* Burns injury and hypermetabolic response
* Clinical epidemiology of estrogens in asthma
* Hepatitis C and Hepatocellular carcinoma
* Development of novel therapeutics for Clostridium difficile infection
* Obesity and its metabolic complications
* Pediatric respiratory infections - bronchiolitis
* Pediatric respiratory infections – ear, nose & virus
* Phenotypes of severe asthma
* Reproductive women’s health
* Maternal fetal medicine
* Development of novel therapies for advanced colorectal cancer
* Novel point-of-care diagnostic tests for neglected parasitic diseases
* Patient-centered decision support in cancer

Financial support of the Scholar is shared between the ITS and the respective department or school.

  • The Scholars award provides salary support for at least 75% of a university base salary up to $100,000 per year (plus fringe benefits) for up to three years. Up to $1,500 for travel will be provided annually to attend the national clinical and translational research meeting in Washington DC, usually in April.
  • The Scholar’s department or school provides 25% of a university base salary up to $100,000 per year (plus fringe benefits), and may support additional base or non-base salary above that amount.



  • An optional letter of intent must be received by April 15, 2014.  This enables the program to anticipate the number of applicants and provide early advice to potential applicants and their departments.  For example, applicants may need to discuss the need for adequate protected time with their departments before the final application deadline of May 16, 2014. However, submission of a letter of intent is not required.  It is recommended, however, that applicants inform the program and discuss their intent before the final deadline. 
  • For this funding year we anticipate that 1 position will be awarded on or before September 1, 2014. Should another position open before April 1, 2015, this pool of applicants will be considered.
  • Candidates for the ITS Scholars program are early stage investigators at the level of Assistant Professor with a doctoral degree.  Those completing postdoctoral training with a departmental commitment of a faculty position of Assistant Professor by September 1, 2014 are eligible to apply.  But the faculty appointment must not be contingent upon receipt of the award. ITS Scholars may originate from any of the health professions and related fields of translational science, including all basic biomedical sciences, all specialties of medicine and surgery, nursing, psychology and other behavioral sciences, dentistry, pharmacy, pharmacology, epidemiology, biostatistics, allied health sciences, health services research, biomedical engineering and other postdoctoral professions. All applicants must have evidence of strong academic achievement and scholarship, as well as personal attributes such as high motivation and integrity. This award is not intended for individuals making mid-career changes into clinical and translational research.
  • Applicants must be US citizens or non-citizen nationals, or must have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence and possess an Alien Registration Receipt Card (I-151 or I-155) or some other verification of legal admission as a permanent resident. Applications will be accepted from persons with pending residence application, but the required residency status must be in place before receipt of the award. Individuals on temporary or student visas are not eligible.
  • Applicants must be able to commit at least 75 percent of their full-time professional effort to this Career Development Program and its related clinical/translational science research activities (50% effort may be permitted for surgeons).
  • Applicants must not be, or have been, a Principal Investigator on a R01 or R21 award or a Project Leader on a subproject of a Program Project (P01), Center (P50, P60, U54) or other equivalent research grant award, or a Principal Investigator of a mentored research career development (K-series) grant. Applicants may have received prior support on an Institutional or Individual NRSA grant (F or T) or NIH small grant (R03).

Recruitment and application processes will be coordinated through the ITS Education Office:

Program Director:
Bill T. Ameredes, PhD


Program Support:
Marie Carr, MS  
ITS Education Office
6.118 Research Building 6
Phone: 409-772-1484
Fax: 409-772-1968

APPLICATION TIMELINE: Applications for ITS Scholar positions for 2014 are due on May 16, 2014. Reviews of applications submitted by the May 16 deadline will be completed by the end of July 2014.  We anticipate that 1 award will be issued on September 1, 2014 or as funds become available. 


Application materials must be submitted to ITS Education Office via any of the following methods

E-Mail: to with Subject - ITS Scholar Application

Campus mail: ITS Education Office, Route 0342

Questions regarding application submission may be directed to the ITS Education Office via e-mail ( or phone (409-772-1484).



  • Complete the Application Face Page completely.
  • Proofread your application thoroughly for accuracy and completeness.
  • Apply as early as possible, and encourage persons providing letters of recommendation to submit their letters promptly.
  • The deadline for receipt of applications including letters of recommendation is May 16, 2014. Selection of ITS Scholars will be announced on or before July 31, 2014. Funding will start on September 1, 2014 or as funding becomes available.  


  • An optional Letter of Intent must be received by April 15, 2014.  This enables the program to anticipate the number of applicants and provide early advice to potential applicants and their departments.  For example, applicants may need to discuss the need for adequate protected time with their departments before the final application deadline of May 16, 2014. However, submission of a letter of intent is not required.  It is recommended, however, that applicants inform the program and discuss their intent before the final deadline.
  • Face_Page. Information required includes applicant’s name, school/department, contact information, mentor contact information, citizenship status, research area of interest and membership in multidisciplinary team, if applicable.
  • Abstract. A summary of the proposed career development activities including the applicant’s well articulated career goals and research interests and plans. This should include a brief description of the project that will the focus of a competitive grant application, and the type of application planned. 
  • Applicant’s PHS Form 398 Biosketch and Other Support Form.
  • Narrative. Up to 10 pages total; 11 point Arial font. Summarize your career goals, career development plan, reasons for applying to the ITS Scholar Program, and proposed research during and after the period of KL2 support.  More details may be found in NIH parent application information for K23, K08 or other Mentored career development “K” applications; see Three sections should include:
    • Candidate. Describe your commitment to a career in clinical and/or translational research, and how and why a multidisciplinary training program is important for your future research career. This section should address: 
      • The applicant's background, interest in and commitment to a clinical/translational science career, participation in a multidisciplinary translational team.
      • The applicant's potential to develop into a successful independent investigator as evidenced by research training/experience, scholarships, publications and presentations, and grant awards. (Separate letters of recommendation submitted with the application should compliment this section.)
      • The basis for selection of the Mentor.
      • Willingness to commit to at least 75% professional effort towards the objectives of the ITS Scholar Program; a description of residual professional efforts should also be included
      • Plans to develop and submit an extramural application for career development or other research support while in the ITS Scholars Program
    • Career Development Plan. Describe objectives of your immediate research interests/goals and how and why the ITS Scholars Program is important to and will help achieve these objectives as well as future research career success. This section may include planned participation in lab meetings or journal clubs; attendance at research conferences; formal coursework on clinical and translational science topics; participation in additional training experiences in clinical or basic science; or informal educational activities such as short courses or workshops, including training in the responsible conduct of research.  Also, include a timeline of plans for the development and submission of an extramural application for continued career development or other research support.
    • Research Plan. Describe the proposed clinical/translational research project/plan. The Research plan must include separate sections on:
      • Specific Aims (one page)
      • Research Strategy
        • Significance
        • Innovation
        • Approach (including Hypotheses, Rationale, Preliminary Studies, Approach, Methods, and Analyses)
      • Cited literature (this will not be included in the page limitation)
  • Letters of Recommendation:
    • A letter of recommendation from the Research Mentor(s) addressing:
      • the applicant’s:
        • potential for a career in multidisciplinary clinical and/or translational research
        • potential as a future independent investigator
        • capability in pursuing the chosen research topic
        • career development plan towards the applicant’s career goals/objectives
      • the Mentor’s:
        • willingness to serve as the applicant’s mentor in research and career development
        • qualifications in the proposed research area
        • previous experience as a research supervisor, including a description of the nature and extent of supervision experience with professional post-doctoral trainees or junior faculty
    • Supporting information from the Supervising Professor must include:
      • PHS Form 398 Biosketch
      • PHS Form 398 Other Support form
      • PHS Data Table 5A – Predoctoral Trainees of Participating Faculty Members
      • PHS Data Table 5B – Postdoctoral Trainees of Participating Faculty Members
    • PHS 398 forms can be found at NIH PHS 398 Forms.
    • PHS Data Tables 5A and 5B for Trainees of Participating Faculty Members can be found at
    • Two additional letters of recommendation addressing, at a minimum, the relationship to the applicant (the position on which they base their knowledge of the applicant), and the applicant’s background and potential for a career as an independent research investigator in clinical and/or translational science. One of these letters must be from the appropriate department chair and guarantee at least 75% protected time for applicant to pursue the educational and research goals of the program. 

The KL2 Program Director or designee will review applications for completeness.
Qualified applicants will be selected on the basis of:

  • Evidence that the ITS Scholar program will facilitate the applicant’s long-term research and career development goals in clinical and translational science
  • Prior research training and demonstrated performance
  • The qualifications and experience of the Research Mentor
  • Recommendations from the Research Mentor and two independent references
  • The scope and focus of the research and career development/educational plan provided in the application. Specifically, how well will the ITS Scholar program activities help achieve the applicant’s well articulated learning objectives?
  • The ITS Scholar Review Committee will evaluate applications for scientific and technical merit. All applications will be scored on the 1-9 scale used by the NIH Center for Scientific Review. The following factors will be considered during the review:
  • Quality of the Applicant
    • Quality of applicant's academic, research, and publication/presentation record
    • Potential to become a successful investigator in multidisciplinary clinical/translational research
    • Commitment to a career in translational science
    • Potential to benefit from a multidisciplinary mentored research training program, including compatibility with a multidisciplinary translational team
  • Quality of Career Plans
    • Consistency of applicant's career goals with prior and current research experience
    • Likelihood that career plans contribute substantially to the applicant’s scientific and leadership development and necessary skill acquisition to conduct multidisciplinary clinical/translational investigations
  • Quality of Proposed Research
    • Scientific and technical merit of the research question, experimental design and methodology
    • Relevance of proposed research to the applicant's career objectives
Appropriateness of the research plan to the stage of research development and as a vehicle for developing the research skills as described in the career development plan

KL2 Scholars will be selected after consideration of the following factors:

  • Quality and appropriateness of the applicant for this program
  • Quality and appropriateness of the career development plans
  • Quality of the proposed research
  • Overall diversity represented in the final scholar group