My Experience in the ASH Clinical Research Training Institute
The ASH Clinical Research Training Institute (CRTI) is a yearlong training and mentoring program geared toward early-career clinical investigators in hematology. As a current participant in the program, I feel it has been an immensely rewarding experience. I have received valuable feedback on my research proposal and benefitted from networking opportunities and mentorship. Each year, 20 participants are selected to participate in the program, which has more than 20 faculty members, including clinical investigators, biostatisticians, and program officers from the National Institutes of Health.
The CRTI program kicked off in August with an intense weeklong workshop at a scenic beach resort in La Jolla, California. The first day of the workshop was spent with participants giving a 10- to 15-minute formal presentation about their research proposal, which were incredibly diverse and included clinical trials and studies of patient-reported outcomes.
On subsequent days, the mornings were focused on career development topics such as presentation skills, publication proficiency, career development award applications, collaborations with industry, and clinical trial design. Afternoons were spent working on our individual research proposals with our small groups. Each small group consisted of three to four participants and faculty members and covered a specific area of research. The small groups focused on proposal-specific aims and their feasibility, with the goal of crafting a proposal that is realistic, fundable, and will lead to meaningful results. We also received individual feedback on our presentation skills throughout the workshop, as these are critical for success in academic medicine. Networking and developing professional friendships also play a major role in the structure of the program, since participants and faculty members work so closely throughout the week. Most days started with 5:00 a.m. walks along the beach led by Dr. Ruben Mesa, which were very well attended despite the early hour. Many other opportunities for informal interactions existed throughout the week, including group dinners in La Jolla and a beach cookout. On the last day of the workshop, the participants presented their revised proposals and were later matched with a mentor of their choice for continued mentoring over the next year and beyond.
In the week following the workshop, both my small group leader and my CRTI mentor emailed my home mentor with feedback and the suggested changes to my proposal. I also have had monthly teleconferences with my CRTI mentor, which has helped facilitate progress for my research and career development already.
Participating in CRTI has been an exceptional ongoing experience for me. I improved my proposal through constructive discussions, received informative feedback on my presentation skills, and forged professional relationships for future collaborations. I have remained in touch with other participants and we have discussed research ideas and reviewed each other’s grant proposals. The CRTI also meets at the ASH annual meeting in December and ends with a final presentation of our project in May at ASH headquarters. I eagerly look forward to these meetings as I have realized that CRTI is not just a program, but a supportive community. Many faculty members are CRTI alumni and are generous with their time. CRTI promotes a culture of giving back and fostering the next generation of clinical investigators in hematology.
More information and application instructions can be found on the ASH website.