Mallory Powell


College: Undergraduate Education

Center for Clinical and Translational Science Calls for Mentor Award Nominations

Published: Feb 24, 2014

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 25, 2014) -- At each annual spring conference, amidst keynote speakers and poster presentations, the University of Kentucky Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) presents a special class of awards--not for scientific discovery or novel research, but for mentorship.


The Research Mentor Recognition Awards in Clinical and Translational Science honor UK faculty members who have committed their time and expertise to guide junior faculty, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research lab staff, or others to advance in their fields towards independent research.  The deadline for nominations is Friday, February 28, and the awards will be presented at the 9th Annual CCTS Spring Conference on Thursday, March 27, 2014 at the Lexington Convention Center.


A foundational mission of the CCTS is to train the next generation of clinical and translational scientists, and mentorship is an integral component of that process.

While physicians receive years of training in their clinical fields, for example, they don't receive equivalent training in research. Similarly, a background in basic science does not necessarily prepare an individual for translational research. As such, research mentorship is critical in the development of expert, independent investigators.


"The single most important factor influencing the successful career development of a young, early career scholar is the mentoring experience and support that the individual is able to obtain," said Tom Kelly, director of the Training, Education, and Mentoring (TEAM) core at the CCTS.


Research mentors provide a wide range of support, Kelly explains. They help identify academic scholarship that individuals need to be effective in their research areas, and provide opportunities to participate in research and gain practical skills. They play an important role in professional social development by introducing scholars to the research community. Mentors also help with more interpersonal issues, such as helping young scholars interpret successes, failures, and challenges, and assess whether their interests and capacities are appropriate for a given research area.


"Research isn't easy. We train people to be really good clinicians, but we don't always train them in research," said Dr. Philip Kern, director of the CCTS. "Clinical encounters are discrete and brief. But research is a long, difficult process, often involving rejections."


Mentorship is not only important in the ultimate success of a research career, but also in fostering the initial interest in such a path.


"A critical area of mentorship is getting young clinicians to want to have a career in research and investigation, and to mentor them through it," said Kern. "Trying to mentor people through the early years of research and generate excitement is more of a challenge now than it ever has been."


Kelly and Kern understand that a lot of valuable mentoring occurs at UK, but that it goes unrecognized. Successful researchers are rewarded with grants or publications, and there are awards for teachers, but mentorship often occurs behind the scenes.


"Mentorship is extremely important," said Kern. "But I don’t think our academic system does a terribly good job of recognizing good mentors. So we need to go out of our way to identify them. "


The CCTS created the mentor awards as a mechanism to acknowledge the integral role that faculty serve as mentors and an opportunity for junior researchers to recognize the valuable support they receive. Two to five mentor awards are given at each annual conference, and 23 awards have been presented since the program began in 2007.


Past nominations of mentors reveal common themes among the awardees: professionalism, enthusiasm, expertise, and dedication, often while balancing multiple roles and responsibilities. The nominations also document the formative role that the mentors have played in the professional development of their mentees.


For example, Dr. Jenna Hatcher-Keller nominated her mentor, Dr. Nancy Schoenberg, in 2013. She wrote that Schoenberg mentored her "from doctoral student to tenured faculty member, and she has been invaluable in every part of that process."  Hatcher-Keller says that the mentorship she received inspired her to mentor other junior faculty and doctoral students, too.


In addition to the mentor award program, the CCTS facilitates mentorship through formal programs within the TEAM core, such as the KL2 Career Development Program for junior faculty, and the TL1 training program for pre-doctoral students. The CCTS Pilot Funding program also provides extensive, multidisciplinary mentorship and guidance to awardees through the duration their funding cycles.


Previous recipients of the Research Mentor Recognition Awards are:



Natasha Kyprianou, MD, PhD

Charlotte Peterson, PhD

Nancy Schoenberg, PhD

Jamie Studts, PhD



Andrew C. Bernard, MD

Carl Mattacola, PhD, ATC

James K. Hartsfield, DMD, PhD 

Lisa A. Cassis, PhD

Susan S. Smyth, MD, PhD

Jeffrey L. Ebersole, PhD (Special Recognition)



Leslie J. Crofford, MD

Susan K. Frazier, PhD, RN

Michal Toborek, MD, PhD

Andrew J. Morris, PhD

F. Joseph Halcomb III, MD (Special Recognition)



Jeffrey L. Ebersole, PhD

Andre Baron, MS, PhD, MPH



Jayakrishna Ambati, MD

Craig S. Miller, DMD, MS



Michael John Novak, BDS, LDS, PhD

Lu-Yuan Lee, PhD

Steven R. Browning, MSPH, PhD



Greg Gerhardt, PhD

Linda P. Dwoskin, PhD

Kenneth B. Ain, MD



To nominate your mentor, complete the nomination survey at


For more information, please contact Ryan Vicini at




MEDIA CONTACT: Mallory Powell,

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