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This study describes attitudes towards diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) among members of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program. It also explores associations between program members’ roles and their perceived importance of and commitment to improving DEI and assesses the link between perceived importance of and commitment to improving DEI. Lastly, it ascertains barriers and priorities concerning health equity research, workforce development, CTSA consortium leadership, and clinical trials participation among respondents.
A survey was administered to registrants of the virtual CTSA Program 2020 Fall Meeting. Respondents reported their roles, perceived importance of and commitment to improving DEI. Bivariate cross-tabulations and structural equation modeling examined associations between respondents’ roles, perceived importance of DEI, and commitment to improving DEI. Grounded theory was used to code and analyze open-ended questions.
Among 796 registrants, 231 individuals completed the survey. DEI was “extremely important” among 72.7 percent of respondents and lowest among UL1 PIs (66.7%). Being “extremely committed” to improving DEI was reported by 56.3 percent of respondents and lowest among “other staff” (49.6%). Perceived importance of DEI was positively associated with commitment to improve DEI. Institutional and CTSA Commitment, Support, and Prioritization of DEI represented a key theme for improving DEI among respondents.
Clinical and translational science organizations must take bold steps to transform individual perceptions of DEI into commitment and commitment into action. Institutions must set visionary objectives spanning leadership, training, research, and clinical trials research to meet the promise and benefits of a diverse NIH-supported workforce.
Identifying the most effective ways to support career development of early stage investigators in clinical and translational science should yield benefits for the biomedical research community. Institutions with Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) offer KL2 programs to facilitate career development; however, the sustained impact has not been widely assessed.
A survey comprised of quantitative and qualitative questions was sent to 2144 individuals that had previously received support through CTSA KL2 mechanisms. The 547 responses were analyzed with identifying information redacted.
Respondents held MD (47%), PhD (36%), and MD/PhD (13%) degrees. After KL2 support was completed, physicians’ time was divided 50% to research and 30% to patient care, whereas PhD respondents devoted 70% time to research. Funded research effort averaged 60% for the cohort. Respondents were satisfied with their career progression. More than 95% thought their current job was meaningful. Two-thirds felt confident or very confident in their ability to sustain a career in clinical and translational research. Factors cited as contributing to career success included protected time, mentoring, and collaborations.
This first large systematic survey of KL2 alumni provides valuable insight into the group’s perceptions of the program and outcome information. Former scholars are largely satisfied with their career choice and direction, national recognition of their expertise, and impact of their work. Importantly, they identified training activities that contributed to success. Our results and future analysis of the survey data should inform the framework for developing platforms to launch sustaining careers of translational scientists.
A national survey characterized training and career development for translational researchers through Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) T32/TL1 programs. This report summarizes program goals, trainee characteristics, and mentorship practices.
A web link to a voluntary survey was emailed to 51 active TL1 program directors and administrators. Descriptive analyses were performed on aggregate data. Qualitative data analysis used open coding of text followed by an axial coding strategy based on the grounded theory approach.
Fifty out of 51 (98%) invited CTSA hubs responded. Training program goals were aligned with the CTSA mission. The trainee population consisted of predoctoral students (50%), postdoctoral fellows (30%), and health professional students in short-term (11%) or year-out (9%) research training. Forty percent of TL1 programs support both predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees. Trainees are diverse by academic affiliation, mostly from medicine, engineering, public health, non-health sciences, pharmacy, and nursing. Mentor training is offered by most programs, but mandatory at less than one-third of them. Most mentoring teams consist of two or more mentors.
CTSA TL1 programs are distinct from other NIH-funded training programs in their focus on clinical and translational research, cross-disciplinary approaches, emphasis on team science, and integration of multiple trainee types. Trainees in nearly all TL1 programs were engaged in all phases of translational research (preclinical, clinical, implementation, public health), suggesting that the CTSA TL1 program is meeting the mandate of NCATS to provide training to develop the clinical and translational research workforce.
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