Mentored Research in Otolaryngology & Communication Disorders

This is a pilot program designed to build a national infrastructure to support and educate the beginning faculty member in the identification and effective utilization of the mentoring team and network.  The ultimate goal is to support the transition from the medical residency or postdoctoral training into a fulfilling academic career with NIH research funding.

The ideal candidate is a junior faculty member (assistant professor in first five years of practice) who is earnestly seeking to build a research trajectory into his or her career, but not yet prepared to write and submit a competitive K23 or R03 NIDCD grant proposal.  Lack of readiness could be due to the lack of appropriate research or career mentors, lack of departmental support and infrastructure, and/or lack of prior research experience and first-authored publications.  Requirements include that the candidate is willing to commit to a rigorously mentored program with mandatory deliverables; one deliverable is submission of a completed grant application during or before year three of the program.  Expressed support from the mentee’s program chairman is also essential, in order to allow the candidate to commit fully to the pursuit of a research career.

Program Details


Appropriate candidates for this program include junior faculty in the first five years of academic practice.  All candidates will complete a written application in which they discuss their career plans and goals, including a detailed 3 and 5 year career development plan, and a plan discussing their expectations of the mentors and mentoring program.  Curriculum vitae and two letters of recommendation are required, with at least one letter from a senior member of the faculty of their training program (department chair or director of the T32, or both).  A letter of support from the current chair of the department in which the candidate is on faculty is required, detailing support of the candidate to participate in all aspects and fulfill all requirements of the mentoring program and contract.  If the candidate has identified one or both mentors, these individuals should submit letters as well indicating their willingness to serve in this capacity.  Candidates will be encouraged to identify at least one potential mentor.  Selected candidates will be interviewed by the program leadership via teleconference.  Candidates will be chosen using the following criteria:  intent to pursue an academic career with NIH funded research in an institution that is capable of supporting this goal (positive research culture); qualification for application to K award program grant (K08 or K23) and intent to apply for this or equivalent funding (such as R03); and at least one potential mentor identified.  


Two mentors will form with the mentee the mentoring ‘team.’  Composition of the team must have the approval of the program leadership team.  At least one of the two mentors must be a senior mentor – a faculty member with content expertise in the mentee’s area of scientific interest and a history of NIH funding, as well as senior mentoring experience.  A second mentor, or ‘associate mentor’ is also selected.  This mentor need not have scientific expertise in the mentee’s area of interest, but must be interested in developing his or her mentoring skills, located at the home institution of the mentee, and familiar with institutional policies and procedures in the promotions and tenure realm in that institution.  Ideally, this mentor will either have or be in the process of acquiring research funding.  Neither mentor should be the mentee’s department chairperson, and at least one (potentially both) mentors must be at the mentee’s home institution. 

Mentor-Mentee Interactions

1)    Mentor-mentee interactions will be guided by a contract which is developed under program guidance at the beginning of the program.  Responsibilities of mentors and mentees will be specified and activities monitored throughout the program. The agreement will specify the proactive role of the mentee, requiring that the mentee, among other requirements:  assume primary responsibility for his or her career, ask for and accept constructive criticism, actively participate in the mentoring relationship, actively avail his/herself of educational opportunities provided in the mentoring infrastructure and discuss as appropriate with mentors, strive for academic excellence in areas of productivity that include research, publications and teaching, develop a professional network, discuss concerns regarding the mentorship program and process with mentors and/or Leadership Team, and maintain confidentiality.  Responsibilities of the mentor(s) are also delineated in the contract, and include, among other responsibilities:  be accessible and meet with mentee on a regular basis, provide constructive feedback, advise on all issues related to academic career development, nationally or institutionally, assist in formulating and achieving short and long term career goals, provide guidance in identifying skill areas on which most need to focus/develop; be familiar with resources offered by home institution (mentor specific); and maintain confidentiality.

Mentors receive a modest payment to partially compensate for the time taken from regular clinical or research duties for mentoring. Obligations include:  a) Participate in 4 annual (quarterly) meetings via web videoconferencing with mentorship team.  An agenda will be specified (by mentoring team as well as topics suggested by grant leadership), and the mentee will be responsible for drafting a report of the meeting, including content and next steps, for submission to the Leadership Team within one week of the meeting.  Participate in one-on-one mentoring between quarterly meetings, to guide the mentee in career development and grant preparation, as needed to achieve stated goals.  The Leadership Team will establish partial goals for quarterly meetings, and facilitate as needed.  For example, the first meetings will focus on expectations and role of each member of the team, set ground rules for engagement, and discuss the 3 and 5 year career goals of the mentee (these issues will also be addressed in the first face-to-face meeting at the end of Year 1).  The mentee will be required by the Leadership Team to submit materials to the mentors in advance of meetings, in order to facilitate these interactions.  Scheduling, formatting, and reporting of mentor team meetings will be prompted and documented using internet based systems and all participants will be given the opportunity to review, comment and sign electronically.  b)  Closely monitor grant development, offering advice and resources as needed.  Work with mentee to identify appropriate institutional mentors for K award grants and research training plan as well as scientific aspects of research plan development.  Frequent meetings between the mentee and one of the two mentors are encouraged, and the mentors should be in communication with each other to determine how each will follow up with the mentee.  Mentees should have contact with at least one of the mentors on a monthly basis.  c) Mentors must communicate with each other at least quarterly to confer about candidate’s progress, and insure that critical topics are discussed with the mentee by one of the mentors (critical topics listed below).  Mentor interactions will be initiated by the junior mentor and Leadership Team.  Leadership Team will participate in these conversations, and discussions are documented and action items posted.  d)  Mentors will agree to attend with the mentee an annual face-to-face meeting at Duke University, sponsored by the grant, and to meet with the mentee as possible in other national meeting venues.  This grant will fund attendance at the annual Duke meeting for mentors and mentees, and one national meeting in year 3 for mentees only.  Although travel for national meeting attendance by mentors is not covered by the grant budget, we strongly encourage mentors to attend the meeting to support and interact with their mentees.  Examples of frequently attended meetings may include the annual meetings of the AAO-HNS, ARO, AAS, the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), or at the senior OHNS societies that meet at the Combined Otolaryngology Spring Meetings (COSM).  The time commitment for mentors is expected to be 5% for senior mentors and 10% for associate mentors.  While both are expected to be engaged in active mentorship, the associate mentor will also be expected to participate in educational activities around the topic of developing effective mentoring skills.  Mentors will be evaluated by the grant management team based on their effective completion of the stated responsibilities.


Annual Meetings

Meetings will be held annually at Duke University, beginning near the end of Year 1 of the grant period after team members have been identified. Goals of each meeting are outlined below:

Year 1.  Mentor-Mentee team members will attend a meeting at Duke, giving them an opportunity to meet with the leadership team and others at Duke with whom they will interface during the program.  The program agenda will combine orientation, didactic presentations, and leadership development.  The Leadership Team will be present, as will members of the Internal Advisory Board.  
Year 2.  The agenda of this meeting will reflect the needs of the mentees and associate mentors.  We will provide time and support for the teams to meet individually to work on their own goals in grant preparation and career development.  We will also provide didactic presentations that are responsive to the needs expressed by the mentors and mentees.  In either Year 2 or Year 3, mentees will deliver research presentations to the group for critique.  This will give them an opportunity to further develop effective presentation and communication skills.
Year 3.  This meeting will serve to provide education about long term career development and provide closure for the grant cycle.  Mentors and mentees will discuss and plan for any longer term interactions.  Again, the specific agenda for the meeting will reflect the needs of the mentors and mentees.  We plan to invite a nationally prominent speaker who is not associated with the grant to address issues of shared interest to one or more of these meetings.

Advisory Boards

Members of the internal and external advisory boards

Program Leadership

Debara Tucci, MD, MS
Judy Dubno, PhD
Howard Francis, MD
Kristine Schulz, MPH

Internal Advisory Board

Rebecca Moen, MBA
Gwen Murphy, PhD
Pamela Somers, MS, LCSW-C
Daniel Benjamin, Jr, MD, PhD, MPH
Ann Brown, MD, MHS
David Witsell, MD, MHS

External Advisory Board

Carol Bauer, MD
George Gates, MD
Michael Fleming, MD, MPH
John Rhee, MD, MPH
Ed Rubel, PhD
Jay Rubinstein, MD, PhD
Laurie Shroyer, PhD
Bevan Yueh, MD, MPH
Daniel Sklare, PhD

Program Coordinator

Erika Juhlin