About the KL2 Program

The KL2 has three main components:

1. Develop productive and beneficial mentoring relationships

2. Complete the core curriculum

3. Successfully conduct 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 from scientific mentoring to coaching work-life/personal-life balance.  KL2 scholars work with leadership to identify additional faculty mentors as needed to support their research and career development, including quantitative mentors, team science mentors, and other CTSA mentors with relevant expertise.  Each KL2 Scholar, however, is required to identify a primary scientific mentor.    

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 and Associate 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:

• Didactic Course Work

• Internships (Optional)

• Career Development Training

• Training in Responsible Conduct of Research

Health Disparities Research Curriculum


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:

• Clinical Research Training Program 

• Masters in Biostatistics 

• Master’s in Global Health  

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.



Scholars will have the opportunity to participate in internships designed to introduce new investigators to a team based research environment while increasing their networks for potential collaboration.  These internships will allow scholars to experience research across the spectrum of translation, thus improving their ability to communicate across typical boundaries.  Internships will be offered in the following units:

• Duke Early Phase Clinical Research

• Proof of Concept Unit (DCRU)

• Clinical Research Units  

• Duke Clinical Research Institute  (DCRI)

Participation in these internships is optional and the decision to take advantage of an internship should be based on scholar's overall research and career goals.


Career Development Training

In addition to being trained in the scientific competencies, the KL2 core curriculum includes career development activities.  KL2 Scholars will participate in various seminars provided by the School of Medicine Office of Faculty Development, as well as various events sponsored by the Duke KL2 program. 


Training in Responsible Conduct of Research

The KL2 core curriculum consists of three components of training in the responsible conduct of research. 

• 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. 

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

• Research Safety Review Panel. Duke KL2 scholars will be required to participate for 6 months on a special research safety review panel, including the Institutional Review Board (IRB), Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), or the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), depending on the scholar’s area of interest. 


Curriculum addressing minority health/health disparities research

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

Initially this curriculum will be available to KL2 scholars, who are members of the “Community of Scholars.”  The “Community of Scholars” will comprise KL2 awardees and scholars from all the Duke institutional K awards.  It will provide opportunities for junior investigators to network, exchange ideas, and learn from each other.  Scholars will have life-long membership, and will be encouraged to remain active after their 3 years of funding ends.


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. In addition, the Scholar may also work on up to one secondary project at any given time in the program.  

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).

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. 

Scholars and mentors will complete progress reports every 6 months, to be reviewed by the Director, Associate Director, and the Internal Advisory Committee. All reports will include project-specific progress, abstracts submitted, manuscripts in preparation and review, an updated biosketch, and plans for grant submissions. Coincident with these written progress reports, each Scholar will make a brief scientific presentation to the IAC, with feedback provided on content, presentation skills, and future plans.


Program Expectations

At the end of the KL2 career development award, each Scholar will be expected to have:

1. Completed the core curriculum, 

2. Conducted at least one clinical and/or translational research project, 

3. Submitted original papers for peer-reviewed publication, 

4. Submitted a meritorious application for the next stage of funding.