Giving a Leg Up to Three New Researchers

DTMI announces first three KL2 Scholar Awards for 2014

February 1, 2014

The Duke Translational Medicine Institute (DTMI) is giving a leg up to three new researchers, offering funding, formal coursework, mentoring and research assistance through the first KL2 Scholar Awards for 2014.

The recipients are:

• Bryan Batch, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Medicine-Endocrinology
• Genevieve Fouda, MD, Assistant Professor, Division of Pediatrics-Infectious Diseases
• Paul Lantos, MD, Medical Instructor and Hospital Physician in the Divisions of Medicine-Hospitalists and Pediatrics-Infectious Diseases 

These awardees will have research mentors to help them navigate the research world. They will also complete a set curriculum, rounding out the knowledge necessary to conduct research. This curriculum includes career development and education about health disparities and how they affect research. All awardees will conduct a research project with results that will provide preliminary data to obtain the next level of funding.

Call for 2014 KL2 Scholars“This award fundamentally transforms my career path,” said Lantos, who will be studying Lyme disease in the southeastern U.S.

Batch, who will be studying weight loss in female veterans, agrees. “This award will allow me to expand the protected time I have to focus on researchand will also provide the mentorship and didactic training I need to become an independent clinical researcher,” she said.

The National Institutes of Health created the KL2 scholar program because it recognized that navigating the world of research is a meticulous and daunting task for new investigators. Not only must they understand the basics of formulating a research question and conducting a study, but they mustalso have a firm grasp of the rules and regulations surrounding this type of work. The KL2 Scholar program provides a structure to assist investigators who have recently completed professional training and who are just beginning translational or clinical research.

The DTMI is able to award annual KL2 Scholars through funding from the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) grant. Laura P. Svetkey, MD, the director of the KL2 Program, said that Duke expects to fund another round of scholars by July 1, 2014 and to continue to select new scholars for at least four more years.

Svetkey said that she and Dr. Kimberly Johnson, the KL2 associate director, are excited about helping the first three scholars along their scientific and career pathway.

“A unique aspect of Duke’s KL2 program is our focus on increasing diversity in the scientific workforce,” she said. “The CTSA KL2 gives us an exciting opportunity to foster young clinical and translational investigators who are poised to succeed.”

The research topics chosen by the KL2 scholars reflect the passions of these young investigators.

Bryan Batch will work on a project titled, “Targeting Weight Loss Management to Enhance Outcomes in Women Veterans.” The project targets weight loss in women Veterans by adapting a nationally implemented weight loss program called Managing Overweight and/or Obesity for Veterans Everywhere program (MOVE!). “I’m honored and really excited about being given the opportunity to carry out aline of research that I feel passionate about,” she said.

Genevieve Fouda will work on a project titled, “Estimating the Impact of Infant Passive Immunization on Postnatal HIV Acquisition. The goal of this project is to develop a mathematical model to estimate the public health and economic impact of passive immunization with VRC01 mAb and guide the design of a future efficacy trial evaluating this strategy.  Although Fouda’s previous training is in immunology, she is interested in using a combination of clinical immunology and quantitative sciences to guide the design and implementation of immune-based interventions. “This KL2 award will provide me with the protected time and resources to acquire skills in quantitative sciences, especially in mathematical modeling,” she said.

Paul Lantos’ project is “Improving the Diagnosis of Lyme Disease in the Southeastern United States.” This project looks at risk of over-diagnosis and overtreatment of Lyme disease, and the result of public health case findings being vulnerable to false positive misclassifications. Lantos expects that the KL2 award will enhance his productivity and broaden his capabilities as a researcher. “With the time I now have available for research I will be able to complete research studies far more quickly, expand their scope and their depth, and consequently, compete for funding to grow my research further,” he said.

More information about Duke's KL2 program is available on the Duke Translational Medicine Institute website. 


From left: Paul Lantos, Genevieve Fouda, and Bryan Batch, recipients of the CTSA KL2 Scholar Awards in March 2014.