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Institutional Career Development (Kl2) Program

The School of Medicine Kl2 Mentored Career Development Award provides didactic training, mentoring, and career development to prepare junior faculty for independent careers in translation research. Kl2 awardees receive advanced training in multiple disciplines, including biostatistics, epidemiology, study design, genetics, bioinformatics, and bioethics. Junior faculty from all health professions in the UTL, MCL, NTLR lines are eligible.

Program Information

Kl2 Scholar Awardees pursue a mentored research project in their area of expertise. Research performed within the Kl2 program will provide the basis for an independent NIH award (e.g., K23, K08, or R01).

The Kl2 award provides salary support up to $120,000 per year (or $106,500 per year for surgical specialities) for two years. For non-surgeons, 75% of the Kl2 full-time professional effort must be devoted to the Kl2 program. Exceptions may be made for surgical specialties (e.g., 50% effort). Additional funding of $20,000 per year is available for research expenses and $2,000 per year for travel in support of the objectives of the award.

Program Contacts

Steven Asch, MD, MPH
Faculty Lead

Ellen Orasa
Program Manager

Kl2 Scholars

Iram Ahmad, MD, MME
Assistant Professor, Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, Pediatric Otolaryngology

Radiographic Changes in the Auditory Pathway to Predict Outcomes of Children with Hearing Loss

This project aims to evaluate changes in the auditory pathway in children with sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), as a predictor of hearing aid outcomes by using DTI. Index of fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) will be evaluated and compared to controls. We will evaluate their outcomes by audiometric and speech testing. This project will also determine if the microstructure changes to the auditory pathway is seen in patients with SNHL and cochlear implants. In our proposed study, changes to the auditory pathway will be measured to assess whether this impacts outcomes and can prognosticate care.

Vivek Charu, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Pathology

Predicting benefits of intensive glycemic control across multiple clinical outcomes to individualize treatment of type II diabetes

Glucose control is a cornerstone therapy for DM2. While clinical guidelines recommend individualized glycemic targets, quantitative criteria for selecting optimal targets do not exist. To test the hypothesis that the lack of benefit observed in large trials of intensive glycemic control masked important treatment heterogeneity, we will apply novel statistical methods to data from two large randomized trials in DM2. Our goal is to advance new methods to identify treatment heterogeneity while considering multiple outcomes simultaneously, and generate new evidence to support individualized glycemic targets in DM2.

Shoa Clarke, MD, PhD
Instructor, Medicine, Cardiovascular Medicine

Integrating diverse data with novel methods to improve genetic risk prediction in Black and Hispanic populations

Polygenic risk scores (PRS) are a central focus in the development of precision medicine, and PRS for coronary artery disease (CAD) are now being used at some medical centers. However, current CAD PRS have been optimized for and validated in populations of primarily European ancestry with little genetic admixture. Thus, these scores have poor or unknown reliability for a large portion of the U.S. population. I will use recent large-scale diverse genome-wide association studies of CAD and CAD risk factors to build new PRS to improve risk prediction for Black and Hispanic populations. In parallel, I will continue to work to improve diverse representation in genetic studies by conducting new GWAS with larger sample sizes and improved methods for analyzing admixed populations.

Aaron Dawes, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Surgery, General Surgery

The Effect of Managed Care on Access and Quality for Medicaid Patients with Colon Cancer

Along with expanding enrollment to low-income adults, the Affordable Care Act allowed states to make changes to the structure of their Medicaid programs, most notably by transitioning their fee-for-service (FFS) enrollees into managed care. In California, all but one county currently require Medicaid patients to enroll in Medicaid managed care (MMC) programs. Since only 14 counties mandated MMC prior to the ACA, the remaining counties were forced to transition at the time of expansion. We plan to take advantage of this natural experiment by using a quasi-experimental approach to isolate the impact of managed care enrollment on both access and quality of care for patients with colon cancer.

Andrés Gottfried Blackmore, MD, PhD
Instructor, Medicine, Gastroenterology

Investigation into Pathogenesis of Gastroparesis and Functional Dyspepsia 

The objective is to elucidate the immune-mediated mechanisms that result in gastroparesis. Preliminary data show that gastroparesis patients harbor immune dysregulation characterized by increased mucosal mononuclear phagocytes (MPs). These increased MPs significantly correlate with loss of serotonin-producing enterochromaffin cells (ECs) and delayed stomach emptying. I hypothesize that stomach mucosa MPs have a pro-inflammatory phenotype, and promote the loss of ECs in gastroparesis. My rationale is that by unraveling drivers of dysmotility in gastroparesis, we can harness these mechanisms therapeutically. This project aims: (1) to unravel the phenotype and function of gastroparesis MPs and (2) to evaluate the capacity of MPs to promote EC loss.