Transition to Independence: Characteristics and Outcomes of Mentored Career Development (KL2) Scholars at Clinical and Translational Science Award Institutions

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Abstract

Purpose

To describe the transition from mentored to independent research funding for clinical and translational scholars supported by institutional KL2 Mentored Career Development programs.

Method

In 2013, faculty leaders at Clinical and Translational Science Award institutions completed an online survey, reporting characteristics of scholars in their KL2 programs from 2006 to 2013. The primary outcome variable was a report that the scholar had received independent funding as a principal investigator. Data analysis included descriptive summaries and mixed-effects regression models.

Results

Respondents from 48 institutions (of 62 eligible; 77%) provided information about 914 KL2 scholars. Of those, 620 (68%) were medical doctors, 114 (12%) had other clinical training, and 177 (19%) were nonclinician PhDs. Fifty-three percent (487) were female; 12% (108/865) were members of racial or ethnic groups underrepresented in medicine (URM). After completing KL2 training, 96% (558/582) remained engaged in research. Among scholars who completed KL2 training two or more years earlier, 39% (149/374) received independent funding. Independent funding was from non-National Institutes of Health (NIH) sources (120 scholars) more often than from NIH (101 scholars). The odds of a nonclinician attaining independent funding were twice those of a clinician (odds ratio 2.05; 95% confidence interval 1.11–3.78). Female and URM scholars were as likely as male and non-URM scholars to attain independent funding.

Conclusions

KL2 programs supported the transition to independent funding for clinical and translational scientists. Female and URM scholars were well represented. Future studies should consider non-NIH funding sources when assessing the transition to research independence.

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