Meet the Scholars
The CCTS REACH Program provides support for selected post-doctoral junior faculty on their pathway to becoming independent clinical and translational investigators. Specifically, the KL2 Clinical and Translational Science (CATS) Scholars Awards provides a vigorous mentoring and career development program for clinical and translational scholars in disciplines and professions such as medicine, dentistry, nursing, psychology, pharmacy, and physical & occupational therapy.
The CATS Scholars Program is intended to accelerate career progression of scientists who have demonstrated a commitment to clinical and/or translational research. Ideal candidates are junior faculty who will have completed the majority of their formal research training and now require protected time to develop a specific research project that will lead to an external funding. Here, we discuss the current UIC research endeavors supported by this award and share the new call for applications.
Irum Khan, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology
Dr. Khan is committed to an academic career in hematology where she can translate scientific discovery to clinical care. In the field of leukemia, where tumor cells are liquid and readily accessible, there have been significant advancements in molecular characterization of disease and development of targeted therapies. This rapid exchange from bench to bedside and back is where Khan finds her motivation. She believes in a clinical practice where cancer is characterized molecularly- in addition to morphologically- and treatments tailored accordingly. Dr. Khan has also been a key contributor to the development of an outreach strategy to increase the number of African-American patients participating in education and research.
Dr. Khan’s research under the CATS Award will investigate nuclear FOXM1 as a critical mediator in a high- risk molecular subset of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) utilizing primary patient samples and animal models of leukemia. The results of this research will allow Dr. Khan to develop a target driven clinical trial for the treatment of patients with high-risk leukemia. Her data will also frame future studies for target driven trials using FOXM1 inhibitors that may increase sensitivity to chemotherapy in these AML patients who are characterized by a high rate of relapse and poor outcomes with standard treatment.
Liudmila Romanova, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neurology and Rehabilitation
Dr. Romanova’s laboratory focuses on examining all components of brain barriers, with Alzheimer’s disease as the primary model. The breadth of her academic training, which includes biochemistry, molecular biology, stem cell biology and gene therapy, allows her to approach complex scientific problems without methodological limitations. This has also helped her to formulate novel experiments that test important hypotheses about Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Romanova hopes to leverage her CATS training to acquire additional skills and training necessary to be a pioneer in lymphatic and vascular neurobiology. Unpublished findings suggest that the brain lymphatic network in Alzheimer’s disease appears quite different from controls at the ultrastructural level, leading Romanova’s research team to probe solute transport and other physiology. Her translational plan for this project includes gene therapy and drug development applications of the “brain lymphatic” system. The Romanova lab’s extensive preliminary data will form the basis for multiple NIH and private foundation grants. She hopes this research will contribute to our understanding of the role of brain lymphatics in dementia and will deliver a platform for Alzheimer’s drug screening.
Amanda Roy, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychology
Dr. Roy’s research focuses on the ways that environmental characteristics can shape individual health and well-being across the life span. She believes that the settings where people live and spend their time play an integral role in determining individual health. Her work draws upon theory and methodology from fields including psychology, sociology, public health, and public policy analysis with a focus on low-income and racially/ethnically diverse people. Roy’s overarching career goal is to conduct high-quality, innovative applied research that can be used to promote health and prevent risk in low-income communities.
Dr. Roy’s research program supported by the CATS Scholar Award seeks to better understand how exposure to environmental risk, such as neighborhood poverty and crime, is related to adolescent substance use and health-risk behavior. This understanding will be used to develop early intervention strategies. Her research addresses key stages of the translational science spectrum, from identifying factors that predict the development of health-risk behaviors to developing an intervention to reduce risk. This research also incorporates key participant involvement by directly assessing youth’s interpretations and motivations for change.
Are you interested in becoming a CATS Scholar?
The CCTS is currently accepting applications for the Clinical and Translational Science (CATS) Scholars Awards. These two year awards provide a vigorous mentoring and career development program for clinical and translational scholars in disciplines and professions such as medicine, dentistry, nursing, psychology, pharmacy, and physical & occupational therapy.
The CATS Scholars Program is intended to accelerate career progression of scientists who have demonstrated a commitment to clinical and/or translational research. Ideal candidates are junior faculty who will have completed the majority of their formal research training and now require protected time to develop a specific research project that will lead to an external funding.
Benefits of the Program:
- 75% release time for research and career development, which will be funded by the CATS Program up to $100,000 (the home department/unit must commit to this release time in writing at the time of application).
- Funds to support scholarly activities. Scholars will receive $25,000 annually to support their scholarly activities, as well as $2,500/year for research related travel.
- Individualized career planning and formalized annual review of progress
- Monthly career development workshops and activities
- Peer review of grants and external presentations
- Mentoring from senior faculty
- Access to subsidized CCTS core services (requires submission of an application/proposal for approval)
- Additional funds for external enrichment activities to support career development goals
Questions? Contact the REACH Program Coordinator, Jaclyn Jackson, at firstname.lastname@example.org.