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Director’s Message, Winter 2015-2016

Dr. Firestein

I am pleased to announce expanded programs in our Education unit at the UC San Diego CTRI. Our new NIH grant, awarded in August, enables us to develop additional education and training opportunities for a growing workforce. I’m especially pleased about the growth of our successful KL2 program, the addition of the TL1 postdoctoral program, and our launch of new courses and seminars.

The KL2 program provides a tailored mentored research experience to promising faculty clinical and translational researchers. This year we expanded the program from three to eight slots. We received the highest number of applications to date, along with an increase in their academic diversity, and are very excited that we are announcing the award recipients in early 2016. We also instituted a “mini-sabbatical” program for our second- and third-year KL2 scholars, and have awarded two this year. This program is aimed at broadening KL2 scholars’ skills through targeting experiential learning projects.

The Education group also provides the CREST program, which has been training learners in clinical research for more than 10 years. CREST is a modular curriculum that includes biostatistics, bioinformatics, epidemiology, clinical trial design, grant writing and other related courses. Several new courses are being developed for the upcoming year, including the initiation of a new Translational Research elective in January 2016. Additional courses in development for 2016 and 2017 include Life Course Research, Stem Cell Translational Research, and Implementation Science. The CREST curriculum is also used by the TL1 and KL2 scholars as well as T32 trainees across the campus and junior faculty with individual K awards.

The TL1 program provides mentored research training experiences and training to medical and graduate students, pharmacy students and post-doctoral fellows. This year we appointed 10 long-term trainees and are in the process of selecting the short-term pre-doctoral trainees. We are delighted to have initiated a new collaboration with the UC Riverside (UCR) School of Medicine, in which UCR medical students will be awarded TL1 short-term and long-term training positions, matched with UC San Diego mentors. This year we also launched a new post-doctoral program through the TL1 mechanism. This fellowship is to develop scholars’ skills in advanced clinical and translational research; two post-doctoral clinical and translational research fellowships will be supported for up to two years. The new leader of this program is Christina Chambers, PhD, MPH, an accomplished translational researcher and mentor and a professor of pediatrics, family medicine and public health, and pharmacy.

Other plans for 2016 include beta testing an online VirBELA simulation environment for project management and team science training; expanding our well-attended CTRI Seminar Series; and hosting the Day of Translational Science symposium in our new Altman CTRI building. With VirBELA, we are developing a virtual-reality-based team science training program. Participants develop regulatory and project plans for implementing a multi-site clinical trial while receiving feedback about their strengths and weaknesses as they navigate team-based decision making challenges.

We have much to anticipate as we enter 2016.

Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year!

Gary S. Firestein, MD, Director of CTRI
Professor of Medicine
Dean and Associate Vice Chancellor of Translational Medicine
Phone: (858) 822-3824