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.


There are currently no positions available.



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 preferably should be early in their career, e.g. within 1-3 years of their appointment
  • Commit 75% of professional effort to the program (surgical >>>50%) (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. During this period of ICTS support, ICTS will work with the scholar through dedicated mentoring and monitoring to apply for an individual NIH K-award. The faculty 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.)


Minimum Program Eligibility

Applicants must have

  • At least one first-authored peer-reviewed publication in the topic area of the KL2 proposal
  • Mentors from more than one discipline
  • A clear commitment and resources 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:

  • 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 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 multidisciplinary extramural grant of any size submitted (typically R21, R03, or other federal, state, foundation, industry, or intramural grant).
      • In addition, KL2 Scholars are strongly encouraged to submit an 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.

By the end of the 3rd Year 

      • One multidisciplinary, R01 grant (or equivalent) submitted.
    • Scholar Performance Reviews

Six month

        • 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

Full applications are due by January 4, 2018.

  • Scholar Information. (4 Pages)  Please address:
    • Summary of the degree to which the application meets five ICTS-KL-2 scholar selection criteria
      • Format.  Substantial face-to-face discussions among the career recipient/scholars, other individuals in a similar training status, and mentors along with a combination of didactic and small-group discussions (e.g. case studies) are highly encouraged.
      • Subject Matter. While there are no specific curricular requirements for instruction in responsible conduct of research, the following topics have been incorporated into most acceptable plans for such instruction:
        • conflict of interest – personal, professional, and financial
        • policies regarding human subjects, live vertebrate animal subjects in research, and safe laboratory practices
        • mentor/mentee responsibilities and relationships
        • collaborative research including collaborations with industry
        • peer review
        • data acquisition and laboratory tools; management, sharing and ownership
        • research misconduct and policies for handling misconduct
        • responsible authorship and publication
        • the scientist as a responsible member of society, contemporary ethical issues in biomedical research, and the environmental and societal impacts of scientific research
      • Faculty Participation. Mentors and other appropriate faculty are highly encouraged to contribute both to formal and informal instruction in responsible conduct of research. Informal instruction occurs in the course of laboratory interactions and in other informal situations throughout the year.
      • Duration of Instruction. Instruction should involve substantive contact hours between the career recipient/scholars, mentors and other appropriate faculty. Acceptable programs generally involve at least eight contact hours. A semester-long series of seminars/programs may be more effective than a single seminar or one-day workshop because it is expected that topics will then be considered in sufficient depth, learning will be better consolidated, and the subject matter will be synthesized within a broader conceptual framework.
      • Frequency of Instruction. Reflection on responsible conduct of research should recur throughout a scientist's career. Individual scholars are strongly encouraged to consider how to optimize instruction in responsible conduct of research for the particular career stage(s). Instruction must be undertaken at least once during each career stage, and at a frequency of no less than once every four years. Individuals at the early career investigator must receive instruction in responsible conduct of research at least once during this career stage.
  • Statement of research interests and career goals (limit to 1000 words)
  • Two mentor Support Letters
    • Outline the qualification of the applicant and the availability of resources for the applicant to complete their research
    • Additionally, mentors need to provide a 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. 
  • A signed statement of support from the department chair or division chief. 
    • This letter need only speak to the availability of resources for the applicant to perform research
  • NIH Biosketch (new format)



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 UCSF 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 



Notes and Deadlines


Questions should be directed to Diana Vigil: dvigil1@uci.edu.

Applicants will be notified of the outcome on or before January 15, 2019.

NIH Policy on K-awards: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/nihgps_2012/nihgps_ch12.htm