ICTS KL-2 Career Development Program

Section 1

The UC Irvine Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (ICTS) NIH funded faculty career development (KL-2) awards are intended to support a period of mentored or independent career development in preparation for a role as an independent researcher (mentored K), or to enable and expand the grantee’s potential to make significant contributions (independent K) in the biomedical, behavioral, and clinical sciences. Generally, K awards require the candidate to hold a full-time appointment at the applicant organization and devote a minimum of 75% of that appointment to the career award. Our goal is to increase the quantity and quality of exceptionally gifted clinical researchers and translational scientists throughout the training pipeline.

Currently, there are no open positions.


Candidates for KL2 awards must:

  • Be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident; individuals on temporary or student visas are not eligible
  • Have a primary full time paid appointment as a junior faculty member at UCI in any series above the clinical instructor. Applicants should be early in their career, e.g. within 1-3 years of their appointment
  • Commit 75% of professional effort to the program (or as low as 50% for surgeons). A minimum of 75% effort must be dedicated to pursuing multidisciplinary clinical research and translational science including training and mentoring for a minimum of 2-3 years. The scholar's home department, School, or organized research unit is expected to contribute the balance of the scholar's salary and research support during the period covered by the award.
  • Not be or have been a principal investigator on an NIH R01, or project leader on a subproject of a Program Project (P01), Center (P50, P60, U54), mentored career development grant (K23, K08, K01, etc.), or equivalent non-PHS peer reviewed research grant that is over $100,000 in direct costs per year. May have had support on a NRSA grant (F or T) or have been PI of an NIH small grant (R03 or R21). (Note: Candidates may have had previous support on a K-12 award, but the ICTS KL2 cannot extend total K support beyond 5 years.)
  • Members of underrepresented groups in biomedical sciences are especially encouraged to apply

Minimum Program Eligibility

Applicants must have

  • At least one first-authored peer-reviewed publication in the topic area of the KL2 proposal
  • A minimum of 2 mentors from more than one discipline
  • A clear commitment from the home department/ORU.

Program Requirements

All KL2 recipients will become part of the ICTS KL-2 Scholars Program. The specific requirements of the KL2 award, as well as the general requirements of the K Scholars Program, are detailed below:

  1. Professional Effort Devoted to the Program and Source of Funding
    Generally, 75% of a Scholar's full-time professional effort must be devoted to the KL2 award for the training and clinical research activities. The 75% effort is based on the entire amount of time worked in a typical week, and should include proportionate amounts of normal weekday time. The remaining 25% effort can be divided among other clinical, administrative, and teaching activities that are consistent with the proposed goals of the KL2 award.
    Sources of support for the 75% KL2 effort include the ICTS KL2 grant for amounts up to $100,000 per year (including benefits), and the department of the KL2 scholar for any remaining gap between $100,000 and 75% of the salary of the scholar (i.e., the salary gap), as well as the remaining 25% of the scholar's salary. NIH rules prohibit KL2 scholars from receiving salary support from other federal grants and contracts (except in the final two years of K funding, as noted below); however, other intramural funds and non-federal extramural grant sources may be used for this purpose. Scholars who acquire non-federal sources of funds that are appropriate for this use, such as foundation career development grants, may reasonably be expected by their department to allocate part of the award to help cover their salary gaps.
  2. Didactic Training in Clinical and Translational Research
    Training in a comprehensive clinical research program is imperative for establishing independence as a clinical investigator and a secondary degree in a clinical research-related field is an important attribute.
    The training requirements will normally be met through required ICTS courses including quarterly FFAST workshops and monthly Brown Bag Journal Club Meetings.
  3. Mentors
    Developing a successful clinical research career requires strong relationships with mentors and a research team. Each Scholar must have a lead mentor and at least one other mentor from a different discipline. Mentors should have sufficient independent research support to cover the costs of the proposed research project that exceed the scholar research funds provided by the KL2.
    Lead mentors will have overall responsibility for helping scholars develop creative and independent careers in research. In addition to being an expert in the scientific area the scholar has chosen to pursue, a lead mentor must be familiar with faculty, resources and databases at UCI, and have resources and research staff that can support the Scholar's research. Lead mentors will provide guidance to assure that projects are moving satisfactorily on the path to presentations, publications, and grant applications, and they will provide advice about career directions, national networking, and academic promotion. They will also help to assure that 75% of the scholar's total work week is protected from clinical and administrative duties, and fully available for training and research. Co-mentors will be responsible for working with the lead mentor on these responsibilities, and will provide guidance in one or more complementary areas of expertise.
    Scholars will meet frequently with the lead mentor. Scholars will also meet regularly with their co-mentors, and at least twice a year with all their mentors as a group. Mentors are encouraged to participate in the scholar's progress meeting each year, and to work with the scholar on a Career Development Plan. Each scholar is also expected to meet periodically with her/his division head/department chair who will oversee the scholar's departmental interactions and academic advancement.
  4. Key Program Elements
    • Scholar career development plans, progress reports, and performance feedback
      Scholar Milestones

      Since our shared goal is for scholars to become independently funded by the end of their K award period (or earlier), we set out these general guidelines for scholars to consider:
      By the end of the 2nd year, and each year thereafter:
      • 3 peer-reviewed publications submitted, two of these as first or last author and two representing original research.
      • One individual K award application (K23, etc.) that will replace the KL2, extend funding through six years, and offer the advantages of being a PI on a grant from the NIH institute of choice.
    • Scholar Performance Reviews
      Six months

      • Scholars will submit a 6-month progress report and meet with the K Program staff to review their progress on their research progress and IDP.

Application Process

  • Research Plan (5 pages)
    • A. Project Title, Key Words, Research Abstract (1/2 page)
    • B. Specific Aims and Hypothesis (1/2 page)
    • C. Background and Significance (1 pages)
    • D. Preliminary Studies (1 page)
    • E. Research Design and Methods (2 pages)
      • Address rigor and reproducibility
      • Describe consideration of relevant biological variables (ie sex, age weight, and underlying health conditions etc)
      • Include a statistical plan
  • Career Development and Mentorship Plan (2 pages)
    • Candidate Statement of research career goals
    • Mentorship Plan including:
      • Extent of the supervision provided
      • Communication Plan
    • Any specific courses and training proposed
  • Timeline (1 page)
    • Include publication plan and grant submission plan
  • Applicant NIH Biosketch
  • 2-3 Mentor Support Letters
    • Outline the qualification of the applicant and the availability of resources for the applicant to complete their research
    • Statement regarding their role in career development of the ICTS-KL2 scholar. It should be stressed that primary review criteria include the extent of support provided by the mentor/department and the quality of mentoring.
  • Mentors' Biosketches
  • A signed statement of support from the department chair or division chief
    • This letter should address the availability of resources and the departments commitment to allow the applicant 75% release time to perform research.

Scholar Selection Criteria

A campus-wide Selection Committee will review the scholar applications following the model of the NIH peer review process. Selection criteria will focus on the strengths and potential of the candidate to become a leading multidisciplinary clinical investigator judged in five major domains:

  1. Track Record: Creativity of the candidate and potential to lead excellent multidisciplinary research judging by track record in some or all of the following: areas of expertise and prior training; publications; funded grants
  2. Research Plan: Scientific value, potential clinical importance, and feasibility of the written multidisciplinary research plan
  3. Training Plan: Quality, appropriateness, and multidisciplinary complementarity of the proposed mentors, and plan for additional didactic and other training at  UCI or elsewhere
  4. Resources: Tangible commitment and resources provided by the home department/ORU, and suitability of the available clinical and laboratory infrastructure and multidisciplinary team
  5. Career Potential: Global assessment of the likelihood that the candidate will develop a career as an outstanding investigator who will lead multidisciplinary teams and have an important impact on health

Questions should be directed to Marguerite Klumb: mklumb@hs.uci.edu.

NIH Policy on K awards: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/nihgps/HTML5/section_12/12_research_career_development__k__awards.htm