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CCTST KL2 Program Receives Five More Years of Funding

Program names four 2020 scholars

Last month, the Center for Clinical and Translational Science and Training (CCTST) received its third round of funding through the National Institute of Health (NIH) National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences’ Clinical and Translational Award (CTSA) program. This $22.1 million award will enable the CCTST to continue supporting investigators in maximizing the impact of clinical and translational research to improve individual and population health in Greater Cincinnati and beyond.

The KL2 institutional career development core of the CTSA is a $4.1 million, five-year award that provides funding for KL2 Research Scholars Mentored Career Development Awards. The objective of the KL2 Scholars Program is to successfully train diverse, multidisciplinary junior faculty members to conduct innovative, team-based, community-engaged clinical and translational research, develop sustainable careers in clinical and translational research and disseminate, and implement research findings that improve health outcomes and reduce disparities.

The program is led by Jessica Kahn, MD, professor in the Department of Pediatrics, KL2 principal investigator and program director, and Jason Blackard, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Digestive Diseases and program co-director. The KL2 program generally provides 75% salary support plus additional funds for research-related expenses for up to two consecutive years to highly qualified junior faculty pursuing careers in clinical and translational research. To expand the reach of the KL2 Scholars Program, up to two scholars each year are selected to be CT2 Scholars. This program is identical to the KL2 Scholars Program, but is funded by the CCTST and the scholars’ home divisions or departments.

“We are exceedingly proud of the current scholars and those who have graduated. Ninety-six percent of graduates are still conducting clinical and translational research and 69% have served as principal investigator of an NIH career development award or federal independent grant,” Kahn says.

Additionally, the scholars have published more than 800 manuscripts and generated $117 million in direct grant costs.

Kahn and Blackard are committed to developing a diverse and inclusive program. Since inception, the program has mentored 34 scholars with six degree-types from four different University of Cincinnati colleges. Of the current scholars, 58% are women and 42% are underrepresented minorities, Kahn notes.

woman smiling in photo

Jamilah Hackworth, EdD

To further enhance diversity in the program, Jamilah Hackworth, EdD, was recently appointed associate director, diversity and vitality. In this position, Hackworth works to refine the KL2 diversity strategy, coordinate recruitment efforts, lead the development of innovative mechanisms to support underrepresented scholars in achieving career success and develop curricula for scholars that focus on diverse and inclusive leadership.

portraits of four people

2020 KL2 Scholars: Ashley Devonshire, MD, Nathan Pajor, MD, Silvi Shah, MD, and Patricia Vega Fernandez, MD.

Typically, each year, four scholars graduate and four new scholars are appointed. CCTST KL2 scholars for 2020 with the names of their research projects funded through the program and mentors are:

  • Ashley Devonshire, MD, assistant professor, Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children’s Division of Allergy and Immunology, “Predicting Peanut Allergy in Infants at High Risk,” mentored by Marc Rothenberg, MD, PhD, professor, Department of Pediatrics
  • Nathan Pajor, MD, instructor, Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children’s Division of Pulmonary Medicine, “Weaning in the Pediatric Chronic Ventilator Population,” mentored by Raouf Amin, MD, professor, Department of Pediatrics
  • Silvi Shah, MD, assistant professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, “Cardiovascular Health in End-stage Kidney Disease Patients,” mentored by Mark Mitsnefes, MD, professor, Department of Pediatrics
  • Patricia Vega Fernandez, MD, assistant professor, Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children’s Division of Rheumatology, “Validation of a Novel Ultrasound Score for the Evaluation of Pediatric Arthritis,” mentored by Hermine Brunner, MD, professor, Department of Pediatrics

Oluwole Awosika, MD, assistant professor, Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine, also was offered a position but declined due to the receipt of another prestigious career development award.

“Every year we have outstanding applicants to the KL2 Program, and this year is no exception,” Blackard says.

Second- and third-year scholars include:

  • Senu Apewokin, MD, associate professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, (transitioning to a K08), mentored by Alison Weiss, PhD, professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics, Bicohemistry and Microbiology
  • Moises Huaman, MD, assistant professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, mentored by Carl Fichtenbaum, MD, professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases
  • LaQuita Jones, DO, research instructor, Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children’s Division of Oncology, mentored by Daniel Starczynowski, PhD, professor, Department of Pediatrics
  • Halima Moncrieffe, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children’s Center for Autoimmune Genomics and Etiology, (transitioning to a position in industry) mentored by Susan Thompson, PhD, professor, Department of Pediatrics
  • Yoonjee Park, PhD, assistant professor, College of Engineering and Applied Science, Biomedical Chemical and Environmental Engineering, mentored by Winston Kao, PhD, Ben and Louise Tate Professor of Ophthalmology
  • Joseph Perazzo, PhD, assistant professor, College of Nursing, mentored by Carl Fichtenbaum, MD, professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases
  • Carley Riley, MD, assistant professor, Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children’s Division of Critical Care Medicine, mentored by Peter Margolis, MD, PhD, professor, Department of Pediatrics
  • Charles Varnell Jr., MD, assistant professor, Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children’s Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, mentored by Peter Margolis, MD, PhD, professor, Department of Pediatrics

Learn more about the CCTST K Scholar Program.

group of people standing on stairs

KL2 Program scholars and leadership.

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