About the KL2 Program

The KL2 program seeks to develop a diverse group of successful independent investigators in multi-disciplinary clinical and translational research.

The KL2 has three main components:

  1. Developing productive and beneficial mentoring relationships

  2. Completing the core curriculum

  3. Successfully conducting a clinical or translational research project


The Duke CTSA KL2 embraces the concept that mentoring takes many forms and is approached from many points of view. Having multiple mentors, each of whom serves a slightly different purpose, ensures that support and guidance is provided in many aspects of an individual’s career including scientific mentoring, career navigation, and work-life/personal-life integration. Each KL2 Scholar is required to identify a primary scientific mentor and mentorship team.  In addition, KL2 scholars will work with KL2 leadership to identify supplemental faculty mentors as needed, for example, quantitative mentors, team science mentors, and other CTSA mentors with relevant expertise. Scholars will also have the opportunity to participate in peer mentoring.

Primary Scientific Mentor: Each KL2 Scholar must have a primary scientific mentor. Scholars are expected to meet with the primary scientific mentor very frequently (usually weekly). The primary scientific mentor may be ANY faculty member with expertise to assist applicant with his/her research and career development.

The Program Directors of the KL2 will also serve as active mentors for the KL2 scholars and will meet regularly with scholars and the mentorship team throughout the funding period.

Core Curriculum

Each KL2 scholar will complete a core curriculum that is tailored to his/her individual needs. The curriculum will include training in clinical and translational research as well as career development activities. Specifically, the core curriculum focuses on the following:

Tailored Didactic Course work

As appropriate, Scholars may participate in the various degree granting training programs in clinical and translational research. The programs include the following:

KL2 scholars may enroll in other programs that meet their individual needs or scholars may participate in more than one program if selected courses from multiple programs will best facilitate trainee success. With the help of KL2 leadership, each scholar will select one of these programs or design a didactic experience that meets their career interests. In addition to these degree granting programs, scholars will be required to identify local or national symposia, workshops, or other training programs they will attend to support their personal career goals.

Training in Responsible Conduct of Research

Required training in Responsible Conduct of Research includes: 

  • Duke Center for Bioethics: All scholars will be required to participate in at least eight hours of instruction through the Duke Center for Bioethics. The Center offers an annual case-based didactic and workshop program, in which issues such as conflict of interest, privacy, data safety, authorship, and research integrity are discussed. This is a five-week program that meets once a week for 1 hour 45 minutes, first in a common lecture, followed by smaller seminar groups. An equivalent course taken within the last five years may fulfill this requirement. Scholars must submit documentation of completed equivalent course for approval.

  • Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI): Scholars conducting human research will be required to complete six biomedical CITI modules.  

  • Any current institutional requirements

KL2 Scholar Curriculum

KL2 Scholar Seminar Series

This monthly seminar series covers a range of topics that go beyond the specific scientific needs of scholars including:

  • “Soft skills”  such as time management, work/life integration, building resilience, communication and presentation skills)

  • “Survival skills” such as EndNote, library resources, biostatistical collaborations and resources, and IRB/regulatory processes

  • Grantsmanship skills including financial grants management and finding funding opportunities

  • Peer collaboration and networking

Health Disparities Research Curriculum (HDRC)

Scholars will participate in a program that specifically addresses the conduct of research on minority health and health disparities. The curriculum is tailored to the clinical and translational research setting. The curriculum prepares the clinical and translational workforce of the future with knowledge and skills that enable them to conduct disparities/minority health research. 

Team Science Curriculum

Kl2 scholars will participate in a curriculum developed in collaboration with the CTSA Team Science core to prepare them to successfully employ fundamental team science approaches to enable innovation and impact.  This two-year curriculum is comprised of didactics and tailored experiential learning and will be incorporated into the KL2 Seminar Series.

School of Medicine and external Career Development Training 

KL2 Scholars will participate in various seminars provided by the School of Medicine Office of Faculty Development such as Gopen Writing SeminarWrite Winning NIH Grant ProposalsLEADER, and the Research Careers Ahead! Seminar series presented by the Duke Office of Physician Scientist Development (OPSD). In addition, scholars may attend external career development programs such as the NHLBI Programs to Increase Diversity Among Individuals Engaged in Health-Related Research (PRIDE), NIMHD Health Disparities Research Institute, AAMC Career Development Seminar Series and general career development programs sponsored by professional societies or other groups.

Clinical and Translational Research

The most important element of the KL2 award is the actual performance of clinical or translational research. Each Scholar, with guidance from his/her mentor team, will develop and implement a research project that is appropriate in scope for the 3-year program and available funds.

The primary research project is expected to be clinical and/or translational, rigorous, potentially impactful, and it is expected to lead to academic products; specifically, scientific presentations, peer-reviewed publications, and the preparation of a grant proposal that takes the investigator to the next step toward independence (e.g., an individual career development award such as K01, K08, K23; or R funding or equivalent).

The KL2 project can provide preliminary or pilot data that will form the foundation of the next grant, or, less frequently, can be definitively hypothesis-testing on its own. The scope of the science will depend on the particular research question and the appropriate methods needed to address it. 

KL2 scholars are expected to submit at least 2 original papers for peer-reviewed publications each year and to have submitted a meritorious application for the next stage of funding prior to completion of the KL2.