KL2 Mentored Career Development Award Program

The Clinical and Translational Science Award-linked KL2 Mentored Career Development Award (MCDA) Program offers research mentoring, career and professional development and funding to outstanding junior faculty and senior fellows transitioning to independent faculty positions.

This mentored career development award is funded through the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award number KL2TR001413 to the University at Buffalo.

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The KL2 MCDA engages talented, motivated scholars from different health science and clinical disciplines (e.g., medicine, pharmacy, nursing, public health, dental, bioengineering and others) to join the clinical and translational science workforce to develop new treatments for diseases and health disparities affecting our communities.

The KL2 MCDA will provide research training and mentoring in clinical and translational science to outstanding junior faculty in health science disciplines. Specifically, the KL2 MCDA program will:

  1. Develop Scholars’ professional skills and facilitate a seamless transition to their next career level within the clinical and translational workforce pipeline, and
  2. Guide Scholars, enabling them to mentor students and peers in our community, the region and nation.

Each Scholar will receive support to cover partial salary (up to $75,000 plus fringe benefits per year towards 75 percent protected time) and research, tuition and travel costs ($25,000/year) for up to two years. Scholars will be required to apply for individual K awards or equivalent mentored awards, or appropriate R type awards soon after admission into the program.

Note: These guidelines follow the NIH instructions for K-awards applications, in order to facilitate transition from the Scholar award to other individual NIH K-awards. Please refer to the FOA for K01, K08, K23 or others as apply to your research and career goals, for recommended content on career development plans, letters of support, research plans and other parts of the application.  

Program Activities

Scholars participate in program activities to enhance their research skills as well as career and professional development over a two-year period.

  • Mentored Research
  • Mentoring Workshop Series
  • Advanced K to R Grant Writing Workshop Series
  • Professional Development Workshops
  • Community of Scholars (COS)
  • Opportunity to complete certificates in clinical and translational sciences and/or master's and PhD degrees

Program Requirements

  1. Applicants must define and conduct a clinical or translational research project.
  2. Applicants must identify a multidisciplinary mentoring team with extensive clinical and/or translational research experience where one of the members is willing to serve as the primary research mentor.
  3. The primary research mentor(s) should have sufficient independent research support in an area related to the Scholar’s research proposal to cover the costs of the proposed research project that exceed the Scholar research funds provided by the award. Should mentor(s) not have sufficient funding in research grants and/or is awaiting award of a competitive renewal, a letter of support from the department chair or school dean committing to cover the difference in excess costs will be acceptable.
  4. Applicants must commit 75 percent (nine calendar months) of full-time effort on research activities and career development activities associated with the KL2 MCDA. The remaining three months effort can be divided among research, clinical and teaching activities consistent with the proposed goals of the KL2 Mentored Career Development Award.

Note: Scholars in certain clinical specialties (e.g., surgery) may commit less than 75 percent effort (but no less than 50 percent effort) if sufficiently justified by the need to maintain critical clinical skills. Salary support will be prorated as appropriate.  

Preference for funding will be given to outstanding applicants bringing novel approaches towards reducing health disparities in clinical populations and/or applicants with experiences and/or attributes aimed at increasing diversity in the clinical and translational workforce. This includes but is not limited to:

  • having lived or worked in diverse and/or socioeconomically disadvantaged environments,
  • overcoming physical impairments,
  • bringing new and alternative perspectives and approaches to increase educational outcomes and excellence in clinical and translational science, and/or
  • being a member of a group traditionally underrepresented in this discipline. 


  1. Applicant must have a research or health-professional doctoral degree or its equivalent, i.e.: MD, MD/PhD, DO, DDS, DMD, PharmD, DNP or PhD. 
  2. All candidates must be US citizens, naturalized citizens or permanent residents. Individuals on temporary or student visas are not eligible.
  3. Applicants who are postdoctoral, or senior research fellows, must include a letter from the division chief/department chair/dean agreeing to appoint the KL2 Scholar as faculty member on or before the award start date.
  4. Applicants are not eligible for the Scholar award if they:

    a.)      Have simultaneously submitted or have a pending application for any other PHS mentored career development award (e.g.: K07, K08, K12, K22, K23, other) that duplicates any of the provisions of the KL2 MCDA program.

    b.)      Have been or are a current principal investigator (PI) on any NIH research project grant (this does not include NIH Small Grants (R03) or Exploratory/ Developmental (R21) grants or their equivalents), or equivalent non-PHS peer reviewed research grants that are over $100,000 direct costs per year.

    c.)      Have been or are project leaders on sub-projects of program project (P01) or center grants (P50, P60, US54).

    d.)      Have been or are currently PI on an NIH individual mentored career development award (e.g.: K01, K07, K08, K23, K99 award or equivalent).

  5. Applicants are still eligible for the Scholar award if they had support on an NRSA grant (F or T) or have been PI of an NIH small grant (R03 or R21).
  6. Funding from the Scholar award will be for a maximum of two years, after which Scholars are expected to have salary support from an individual K award, R01, R21 or equivalent, from the department, school, mentor, or a combination.  
  7. Appointed Scholars are strongly encouraged to apply for individual mentored K awards (e.g.: K07, K08, K22 and K23) or R awards (R01, R21, R03) during the first year. Any plans to submit such an application between the award application date and potential start date must be disclosed. If successful in obtaining a K or R award the Scholar appointment will be considered complete and the salary funding will then be received from the individual K or R grant award. 


1. Letter of Intent: The Letter of Intent (LOI) must include the following items (one page, biosketches not included):

  • Name of Applicant and affiliation (attach new NIH-style biosketch)
  • Name of Primary Research Mentor and affiliation (attach new NIH-style biosketch) 
  • Title of mentored award research project
  • Career development award goals (numbered, with brief descriptions)
  • Research project: overall hypothesis, specific aims and relevance to health disparities
  • Signed Eligibility Statement: I attest that I comply with the grant award eligibility conditions described under C4a-d (not included in page limit)

2. Complete Full Application Components

Applications must be assembled in the order described below, compliant with stated page limits, and submitted in a single PDF via email.

  • Cover Page: Include the name of the applicant, title of proposal, names of primary research mentors and a list of all individuals providing letters of support (e.g.: research mentor, quantitative mentor, other mentors, department chairs, institute directors, etc.). Cover letter must be endorsed by the applicant’s Department Chair/School Dean.
  • NIH Biosketch: A new NIH-style biosketch must be provided including a section on “Other Support,” outlining both past and present other support.
  • Proof of US citizenship or permanent residency.
  • Transcript documenting degree.
  • Candidate Information and Goals for Career Development: (maximum four to six pages) Arial 11-point font with 0.5 inch margins (left, right, top and bottom). State reasons for pursuing a career in clinical and translational research. Describe background, interests and experiences that prepare the candidate for the award; specific plans and time line for meeting educational and career development goals during the award; plans to interact with mentors; how the research project and career/educational plan will facilitate overall longer term career development goals. Complete the Individual Development Plan (IDP), which is a useful tool to stay on course towards achieving your career development goals and to focus discussions with your mentors.
  • Research Plan: Arial 11-point font with 0.5 inch margins (left, right, top and bottom). The research should be designed to be completed within the two-year time of the award. The work is expected to generate sufficient data to allow the MCDA award recipient to submit an externally funded career development or independent research project award application.
    • Research Abstract: (one page). Summarize the research project and career development goals.
    • Research Strategy: 
      • Specific Aims, including hypotheses and significance (one page)
      • Research Plan (six pages)
        • Background, significance and innovation 
        • Preliminary Studies (if available):  
        • Research Design and Methods (including strengths and limitations of the approach) 
      • Training in Responsible Conduct of Research (one page)
      • Human Subjects (not included in page limit)
        Note: Although the IRB protocol can be listed as pending, no research funds will be released until the full IRB for your study is approved.
      • Vertebrate Subjects (not included in page limit)
        Note: Although the IACUC protocol can be listed as pending, no research funds will be released until the full IACUC for your study is approved.
      • Literature Cited (not included in page limit).
  • Diversity Statement (one page): Include statement(s) indicating planned efforts to increase workforce diversity and inclusion, excellence in educational outcomes and in translational and clinical research and/or in bringing new perspectives and experiences to accelerate research to reduce health disparities gaps. 
  • Budget:  A separate budget for each of the two years detailing your research expenses, using the budget form provided. The budget form and instructions will be made available to those applicants selected to submit a full application.
  • Budget Justification: Provide a budget justification explaining in detail each item included in the budget.
  • Current Grant Support: List all current sources of grant support past, present and pending. Include total direct and indirect cost for each year, total period of support, description of scope of the grant your role in the project, etc.
  • Timeline (maximum one page): timeline for research and career development activity during two-year award period.
  • The following letters are required:
    • Letters of Commitment from: 
      • Current Research Mentor and Co-Mentors (if identified) and their commitment to mentoring and research support to the candidate. Please include new NIH-style biosketches.
      • Collaborators, if any.
    • Letters of Recommendation from two previous mentors.

Criteria For Review, Selection and Appointment Process

  • Candidate Review: Applications will be reviewed and ranked by members of the KL2 Steering Committee and specially appointed reviewers with expertise in the subject matter. All applications will be reviewed using strict NIH guidelines, with attention to confidentially practices.
    • Clinical and translational research focus, and potential to promote diversity, inclusion and research in health disparities within the CTSA workforce (see above).
    • Research potential, previous and current commitment to research as evidenced in publications, presentations and letters of support.
    • Likelihood of developing into an independent, extramurally funded investigator.
    • Scientific quality, innovation and significance of the research plan and career goals.
    • Excellence of academic, training and research records of the candidate.
    • Qualifications of the mentors, commitment and financial support to the candidate by the primary research mentor and/or department chair/school dean.
  • Candidate Selection: The final selection will be made by the KL2 Steering Committee. Selected eligible candidates will be interviewed in person or via video conferencing by members of the KL2 Steering Committee. The selected pool of finalists will be invited for in-person interviews, to describe their research and career plans, discuss research and career goals, and answer questions from the committee. The KL2 Steering Committee will rank the top candidates based on qualifications and interview feedback.
  • Candidate Appointment: Offers will be made by the Program Lead and Associate Program Lead. Upon acceptance into the program additional letters will be required from the School Dean and the department chair where the candidate would be appointed, confirming that a minimum of 75 percent (or 50 percent as eligible) of the Scholar’s time will be devoted to mentored research and professional development activities. The individual Scholar’s funding for the second year is contingent on demonstration of satisfactory progress towards Scholars’ research career goals.

Post Award

  • Structure and Components of the MCDA: The KL2 MCDA is comprised of research, educational, mentoring, teaching and professional development components. Completion of certificates (details and link) and/or degrees is optional and will be incorporated in the Scholar’s training program in consultation with and approval by the Scholar's Mentoring Committee and KL2 Steering Committee.

  • Scholar Mentoring Plan:
    • Mentoring Plan. The KL2 Steering Committee will review the mentoring plan. The Scholar will complete a report of activities twice a year and present his/her research progress and career developmental plans to the Steering Committee once a year. Feedback from the committee will be communicated to the Scholar and mentors by the Program Lead. When necessary, the Scholar will provide a revised research plan to the KL2 Steering Committee for a second review. The final research and mentoring plan will be shared with the Scholar’s Department Chair as appropriate.

      The Scholar will be required to submit the following every six months:
      • Updated CV
      • Progress Report (template provided, signed by Scholar and his/her mentors)
      • IDP Certification of Completion 
      • Required surveys
    • Complete the KL2 MCDA Curriculum
    • Mentoring Workshop. The Scholar and his/her mentors are required to complete the Mentee/Mentor Mentoring Workshop offered every semester using face to face and online interactive modules.
    • Advanced K Grant Writing Workshop. The Scholar is required to participate and complete this workshop prior to submission of a K or R grant award. Link.
    • Core Competencies in Clinical and Translational Research. The Scholar will take the required workshops in core competencies.
    • Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR). The Scholar is required to complete at least one course and requisite training in RCR to meet the NIH requirements.

Professional Development, Networking and Outreach Activities

The KL2 Mentored Career Development Award involves activities intended to enhance professional development and networking; facilitate attendance at research conferences; and enhance Scholar’s skills as teachers and mentors of future generations of scientists in clinical and translational research.

Programs for the Scholars will include activities such as:

  • Annual CTSI Forum: Participation in organization, program development and invitation of keynote speakers.
  • Community of Scholars: Collegial body which was formed to provide junior scientists an opportunity to participate regularly, grow academically and broaden their professional network and get involved in community outreach activities. More info.
  • Teaching and Mentoring: Participate in research teaching and mentoring of high school, undergraduate, undergraduate summer students and/or MD and PhD students.
  • Outreach: Participate in outreach activities to enhance and promote careers in science among K-12 students.