Many advances in basic science in hematology await translation into clinical research. For example, the newly emerging areas of stem cell biology, cell based therapies, gene therapy, systems biology, cord blood transplantation, cellular immunology, and recombinant cytokines have potential for the management of hematologic diseases. Highly trained clinical researchers are needed to capitalize on these discoveries in the basic sciences and to translate them into clinical settings. The Washington University Hematology Career Development Program (Hematology CDP) is designed to address the need for physician-scientists to conduct clinical research and care for patients with non-malignant hematologic disorders.
The Hematology CDP is supported by 5-year K12 grant from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the NIH. The program will accept one or two new Heme Scholars per year for two or three years of training. The purpose of this program is to equip new investigators with the knowledge and skills to address complex problems in blood diseases. Through this program, the NHLBI will support the early career development of clinical researchers who are expected to become independent investigators and assume academic leadership roles in non-malignant clinical hematology. The program will provide comprehensive, multidisciplinary training in research designs and methodologies, approaches to the clinical management of patients with non-malignant hematologic diseases, and research opportunities in these diseases.
What is Non-Malignant Hematology?
Non-malignant clinical hematology is defined as a discipline devoted to the clinical evaluation and management of individuals with:
aplastic and hemolytic anemias
disorders of hemostasis and thrombophilia
myeloproliferative disorders (MPD), and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS).
Although myeloproliferative disorders (MPD) and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are premalignant, and could be considered "malignant," they are disorders for which a hematologist would be consulted.
Pediatric transfusion medicine is an important area of investigation, for example in children with hemoglobinopathies, and newborns with thrombocytopenia or Rh disease.
Leukemias are excluded from this program.
What is Clinical Research?
Clinical research is broadly defined to include epidemiologic and natural history studies, translational research, patient-oriented research, clinical trials, and health services and outcomes research. Patient-oriented research includes (1) mechanisms of human disease, (2) therapeutic interventions, (3) clinical trials, and (4) the development of new technologies. This definition of patient-oriented research is essentially the same as that applied for K23 grants. Conventionally, NHLBI has suggested the "handshake test" in which researchers should need to shake hands with a patient at some point during the course of their project. However, this test is not the sole means of determining eligible projects. Acceptable projects might or might not include hands-on patient care, such as:
Studies of mechanisms of disease ("bedside-to-bench" research)
Pre-clinical studies of disease treatment strategies
Outcomes research and epidemiology
Psychology studies related to compliance with therapy
Interventional studies aimed at health systems or physicians, rather than individual patients
Heme Scholars must:
- Possess an MD or DO degree, or a doctoral degree in a related discipline
- Be a US citizen, non-citizen national, or permanent resident
- Commit 75% of full-time professional effort to the program for a minimum of 2 years
- Have two mentors and a commitment to a career focused on non-malignant clinical hematology or a specific blood disease
Exclusions or Ineligibility Criteria:
- Scholar must not be a Principal Investigator on an R01 or component project of Program Project (P01) or Center Grant (P50, P60 or U64), Mentored Career Development (K series) or equivalent research grant award. Candidates may have had NRSA (F or T) or NIH small grant (R03).
- Non-citizens or those with temporary or student visas are not eligible.
Additional Eligibility Information:
- Scholars should be clinical or research fellows, clinical or research instructors, or recently appointed assistant professors.
- Eligible physician Scholars usually will have training in Hematology, Hematology/Oncology, Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, Pathology & Immunology, Transfusion Medicine, Hematopathology, Family Practice, Psychiatry, or OB/Gyn
- Physician Scholars should have completed residency training. Exceptions may include residents if they have worked with a mentor in a hematology research project, or have published at least one paper on a blood disease.
- Physician Scholars should meet any service requirements, during the period of K12 support by caring for pediatric, adolescent, or adult patients, with non-malignant or malignant blood diseases. They may not be assigned to solid tumor, cardiology or stroke clinics.
- In addition, doctorally-prepared health professionals may be selected as Scholars if they have documented clinical or research experience (e.g., a paper or dissertation) in one or more nonmalignant or malignant blood diseases. Doctorally-prepared health professionals may come from clinical fields such as epidemiology, health services and outcomes research, social work, nursing, nutrition, health education, pharmacology, neuropsychology, or psychology.
- Note that NIH rules limit total K training grant career development support to 6 years. Thus, a two-year K12 recipient can receive at most a four-year K23 or other K-type award.
Benefits for Scholars
Salary support of up to $75,000 each year, plus fringes, appropriate to the Washington University salary structure for persons of equivalent qualifications, experience and rank, for two or three years
$30,000 each year for research expenses, travel and tuition
Opportunity to obtain a Master of Science degree in Clinical Investigation
Protected research time
Advice and oversight by a specific Career Development Committee, analogous to a Ph.D. thesis committee
Access to a multidisciplinary pool of highly qualified mentors who will guide research projects and career development
Benefits for Primary Mentors
5% Salary support
Funds to travel to an annual one-day grantees' meeting sponsored by NIH. Mentor salary support is a unique feature of the K12 program in non-malignant hematology