KL2/BTC Scholars Shine in Mentoring Opportunities

KL2/BTC Scholars.

L to R: Jason Davies, MD, PhD; David Jacobs, PharmD, PhD; Bonnie Vest, PhD; Hilliard Kutscher, PhD; and Jason Muhitch, PhD

Published September 18, 2019

by Ashley Regling, MA

The CTSI KL2 and the Buffalo Translational Consortium (BTC) Mentored Career Development Awards (MCDA) provide research mentoring in clinical and translational research and career and professional development to outstanding scientists and clinician scientists transitioning to independent positions either in academia or industry. As part of these programs, current and alumni scholars engage in mentoring the next generation of graduate and professional students and in community outreach. Developing mentoring skills and engaging in training the next generation of scientists are key for career success," said Margarita L. Dubocovich, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor, Senior Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and lead of the KL2/BTC mentored career development programs.

Scholars engage in mentoring and outreach activities as part of their two-year programs. The KL2/BTC MCDA sponsored the second annual Young Scientist Research Day in July attended by Buffalo high school students who learned about career and research paths. Bonnie Vest, PhD, a current BTC scholar and research associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine, Jacobs School, provided an analysis of her journey to becoming a medical anthropologist focusing on the well-being of military service members, veterans and their families. Jason Muhitch, PhD, who completed the BTC scholar program in 2018, assistant professor of oncology at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, emphasized the mentorship he received that propelled him to a successful career as a researcher of anti-tumor immune responses.

KL2/BTC scholars also participate in the annual Graduate and Professional Careers in Clinical and Translational Research Forum organized by the Collaborative Learning and Integrated Mentoring in the Biosciences Undergraduate Program (CLIMB UP). This event brings together undergraduate students from several summer research programs for an overview of the clinical and translational research opportunities and graduate and professional careers at the University at Buffalo. This year, students heard from two BTC scholar alumni. David Jacobs, PharmD, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences discussed his path to researching pharmaceutical health services. Hilliard Kutscher, PhD, senior scientist at Advanced Cytometry Instrumentation Systems and POP Biotechnologies, showcased his journey from engineering to biology.

The KL2/BTC scholars also provide mentorship on an individual basis. During the past two summers, Jason Davies, MD, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Neurosurgery, Jacobs School, who completed the KL2/BTC program in July, mentored CLIMB UP undergraduate students to provide 10 weeks training in clinical and translation science as well as career and professional development. When asked about the impact of Dr. Davies’ mentorship, Marvellous Oke, a Morgan State University student, stated, "Working with Dr. Davies has increased my knowledge about clinical informatics research. I was able to understand how to use Electronic Medical Records (EMR) to help future patients."

KL2/BTC scholars are supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award numbers UL1TR001412 and KL2TR001413 to the University at Buffalo.