K Scholars Program

The K Scholars program, managed by CTSI’s Clinical and Translational Science Training (CTST) program, supports the career development of junior faculty building careers in clinical and translational research. This program serves the needs of junior faculty from all four UCSF Schools and from a range of disciplines and backgrounds. Annual enrollment in this popular program now consistently exceeds 50 scholars. View all K Scholars and program faculty.

The K Scholars program provides an academically invigorating and supportive environment encompassing many of the top young faculty at UCSF and affiliated institutions. Participants can expect advice and support from an exceptional group of your peers—junior faculty from a range of health-related disciplines—all at a similar stage in developing a path to an independent academic research career. Support also includes mentorship and guidance from outstanding program faculty, all of whom are successful clinical and translational researchers with expertise in epidemiology, biostatistics, implementation sciences, scientific writing, and career mentoring.

The K Scholars Program has by far exceeded my expectations, and I am grateful to be a part of it.
Renee Y. Hsia, MD

The K Scholars program provides support for scholars to:

  • Conduct high quality clinical and translational research that will have a meaningful and sustained impact on their field;
  • Foster and nurture multidisciplinary collaborations and explore novel research directions; and
  • Develop the range of skills necessary to achieve a successful independent academic research career.

K Scholars benefit from one-on-one advice related to career development and statistical advising, as well as access to faculty with expertise in manuscript and grant writing. Each Friday, scholars participate in works-in-progress seminars, methodological and career development didactic sessions, and networking. K Scholars are engaged in a range of clinical and translational research projects across a variety of clinical conditions and local, national, and international systems, including first-in-human studies, genetics and early biomarker research, observational cohort studies, clinical trials, quality improvement research, and studies of health policy.

Junior faculty engaged in clinical and translational research become part of the K program in two ways:

  • Receiving KL2 intramural career development awards from CTSI (applications submitted in winter, awardees announced in spring). Competition is rigorous as the program receives applications from junior faculty from across campus. The KL2 resources include salary support and research project support, and may be 4-5 years in duration (Apply for a KL2 Award)
  • Receiving career development awards from the National Institutes of Health (K23, K08, K01, faculty diversity supplements), or equivalent awards from foundations or other UCSF career development programs. (Apply to the K Program with an outside award)

Translational Research in Action

With support from the CTSI K Scholars Program, researchers such as Renee Y. Hsia, MD, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at UCSF, are advancing translational science.

Dr. Hsia’s research, featured in publications including the Journal of the American Medical Association, have included findings on factors associated with emergency room closures, the association between ambulance diversion and survival among patients, and trends in emergency room visits nationwide. Findings indicate that tens of millions of Americans do not have ready access to a certified trauma center, and that nearly a third of urban and suburban emergency rooms have closed in the last two decades.

In new findings recently published in Health Affairs, Hsia examines how closures of trauma centers are impacting health, and disproportionally affecting poor, uninsured, and African American populations.

Hsia and her team found that by 2007, 69 million Americans—nearly one in four—had to travel farther to the nearest trauma center than they traveled in 2001. For nearly 16 million people, the extra driving time amounts to about 30 minutes—a critical period for individuals with life-threatening injuries.

“We found evidence that vulnerable communities have less geographic access to trauma care, adding to their health disparities,’’ Hsia added. “This study will help us better understand how trauma center closures are affecting people.’’ 

In regard to the K Scholars Program, Hsia noted: “I'm indebted to the program for providing not only the financial resources to support my time to pursue research, but also providing the structure and resources that are equally (perhaps more!) important to making research happen. The road a researcher faces, especially during the career development phase, is formidable. The K program provides an infrastructure that especially for me has been helpful given the relatively new specialty of emergency medicine and lack of well-established researchers in my field. From weekly work-in-progress seminars to formal didactic training, to methods seminars and increased interaction with more senior researchers in different fields, the K Scholars Program has broadened my network of mentors as well as collaborators, and provided a more solid foundation for development into an independent investigator than I would have received without the program.”