MTP: Guidelines for Development of Researchers in Clinical and Translational Research

The start-up support for a new assistant professor in clinical and translational research is comparable to that for a new assistant professor in basic science. For instance, it includes sufficient time and resources to establish an independent research program, full salary, equipment, laboratory space, resources to acquire technical assistance, supplies, and research animals or tissues. It would further require support for salary to provide ample protected time for research, often 75 percent, and resources to access necessary infrastructure, e.g., biostatistics, study coordinators, laboratory and imaging cores, and informatics. Assured space is as critical for translational and clinical investigators as it is for basic scientists, to meet such needs as seeing patients, conducting interviews, and performing study protocols, housing dedicated research personnel, obtaining, processing, and storing biological samples, and housing dedicated equipment specific to the investigator's program.

In many cases, clinical and translational researchers also need funds to set up their own laboratories. Because of the complex nature and regulatory requirements of translational and clinical research, junior faculty must receive effective, individually focused mentoring from experienced senior faculty, which should be overseen by the institution.

Mentors and mentees should enter into a signed contract specifying their obligations to each other. Given the substantial financial commitment that institutions must make to nurture a clinical and translational physician-scientist, practical considerations demand that candidates for initial support be selected with extreme care. Those judged to have a high likelihood of success will more frequently have completed formal research training and compiled a measurable record of productivity.

AAMC Recommendation 3: Training for investigators in clinical and translational research should comprise completion of an advanced degree with a thesis project or an equivalent educational experience, tutelage by an appropriate mentor, and a substantive postdoctoral training experience.

  • Increased complexity requires degree programs (Master's degree minimum with core curriculum and mentored thesis)
  • Additional 2-3 years of mentored, rigorous "postdoctoral" experience to:
    • Prepare for independence
    • Develop record of accomplishment
    • Centralized oversight and monitoring and standardized trans-institutional expectations helpful

AAMC Recommendation 4: Sufficient support should be given to new junior faculty who are translational and clinical investigators to maximize their probability of success.

  • Three years of protected time (salary)
  • Resources to access necessary infrastructure (e.g., biostatistics, study coordinators, laboratory and imaging cores, and informatics)
  • Dedicated space
  • Continued mentoring
  • Scrupulous protection of "protected time" is critical

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