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Education and Training

ACTRI is committed to developing clinical researchers at every stage of their careers—from undergraduates to post doctoral researchers, high school students to faculty. The Education, Training, and Career Development Unit provides funding, training, seminars, and mentorship to researchers and students who want to advance health sciences.

With ACTRI grants, the ACTRI CREST program, students, post-docs and early career researchers can strengthen their skills in clinical and translational research as they learn from experienced faculty and biomedical industry professionals at UC San Diego.

ACTRI gives researchers the training they need to develop new skills and discover new ways to help patients.


The ACTRI Clinical Research Enhancement through Supplemental Training (CREST) program, under the direction of Ravindra L. Mehta, MD, is designed to improve the skills and knowledge of clinician investigators and translational researchers by providing a comprehensive, cohesive learning experience in an environment that promotes interaction between basic scientists and clinical researchers. Click here for more information about the program.

SUSTAIN (Supporting Under-represented Scholars in Translational and Interdisciplinary Networks)

Next expected call for SUSTAIN applications is early winter of 2025.

ACTRI Seeks Applicants for SUSTAIN program to support successful grant resubmissions among under-represented minority faculty.

The purpose of the ACTRI SUSTAIN (Supporting Under-represented Scholars in Translational and Interdisciplinary Networks) program is to support Under-Represented Minority (URM) faculty members in submitting successful resubmissions of grant applications. National data indicate that URM faculty members are less likely to sustain research careers. Increasing the rate of successful resubmission of grants during early critical career phases could positively impact sustainment of research careers among URM and other under-represented faculty. The SUSTAIN program provides up to 1-2 years of protected time and grant writing training to awarded scholars.


This is not a post-doctoral fellowship, but is intended for UC San Diego faculty members in any academic series who will have completed their training and have a faculty appointment. Applicants from all departments/divisions of UCSD are eligible. 

Candidates must meet criteria (of the first 3 only one must be met):

The SUSTAIN program provides 1-2 years of 50% full-time salary support (including benefits) for up to 2 awarded scholars per year. The other 50% must be matched by the department, and the total effort devoted to research must be 75% or greater. Applicants who have already received an R01 or equivalent grant are not eligible. Applicants must be US citizens or permanent residents. ACTRI will grant up to $60,000 towards salary, plus benefits. Up to two years of support can be provided, and it is expected that during the support period the grant resubmission will be completed. 

The program is intended to be flexible in research and training activities, as specified in the Research and Training Plan. The Research and Training plan should detail expected activities, to include collection of additional preliminary data, expansion of scientific networks, and/or additional methodologic training.  All participants are expected to apply for participation in a grant writing workshop, in particular those led by the UC San Diego Office of Faculty Affairs. A timeline should be provided for these activities, including the anticipated date of resubmission. 

Note that eligible applicants for the KL2 Program do not need to submit a separate application for this opportunity. Candidates will have the option to opt in to being considered for the SUSTAIN program during the KL2 application.

Questions regarding this program should be directed to, including Adriana Tremoulet ( and Colin Depp (

Application Instructions

Applicants should use the following table to guide the structure, content and page limitations of their proposals:

 Item  Description Maximum Number of Pages
Chair Letter

The chair letter should make an explicit statement regarding support for 50% effort in conjunction with the 50% provided by the SUSTAIN award, and should indicate that 75% of the Candidate's total time will be devoted to research

Mentor Letter (if re-applying for a Career Development award) The mentor letter should be the applicant's primary mentor and should detail mentor activities and support during the year None
Research and Training Plan

The Research Plan should state the following:

1.     Project Specific Aims (original submitted Aims can be provided)

2.     Plans to address scientific concerns raised by reviewers (or if new opportunity) such as collection of new preliminary data, add establish new collaborations, or other such activities pursuant to the novel opportunity  

3.    Timeline for research and training activities over 1 year


The Training Plan should state the following:

1.    Long-term career goals and how the research and training plan fits into those goals

2.    Plans for participation in OFA/ACTRI grant writing workshops

3.    Plans to participate in any of a) didactics, or skill building training b) expansion of mentor network, c) other career development activities such as NCLAM, HCOE, or others.

Max of 4 pages
Summary Statement A copy of the Summary Statement that accompanies the revised application should be provided.  Even if a new opportunity is to be pursued, these Summary Statements are useful for understanding the basis of the application. None
Eligibility Checklist This checklist accompanies the application and details a) under-represented scientist status, b) faculty member status 1 page
Applicant's Biographical Sketch BioSketch must be in current NIH BioSketch format. Please click here for guidance. 5


Applicants should submit their application as ONE file in PDF format as an attachment to ACTRI-education@health.ucsd.eduThat file should contain all information as detailed in the above table. Font minimum is 11 point and no less than 0.5-inch margins must be observed on all margins. Applications that do not adhere to these guidelines will be viewed as non-responsive and may be removed from consideration.

KL2 Grant Support

Next expected call for K applications
is late fall of 2024

                        FAQ - applicants please reAd      K Grant Tips Video

The ACTRI KL2 Grant Support program is an institutional equivalent of a K23, K01 or K08 award, a research training grant for junior faculty, provides up to three years of research career development support and up to $120,000 for UC San Diego instructors or assistant professors.

This is not a post-doctoral fellowship, but is intended for UC San Diego and ACTRI partner research institution (including UC Riverside) instructors or assistant professors in any academic series as well as fellows, research assistant professors or postdoctoral researchers who will have completed their training and have a faculty appointment (tenured or non-tenured) by the time of receipt of funding.


Applicants appointed (or pending appointment) in all departments/divisions of UCSD are eligible as well as in a ACTRI partner research institution including Sanford-Burnham-Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, Salk Institute, and La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology. In addition, eligible faculty and postdoctoral researchers from UC Riverside are also eligible to apply.

See here for KL2 and SUSTAIN Programs

Visit the KL2 page more information about the ACTRI KL2 Grant Support program. 

MedGap Program

Cultivating the next generation of translational physician researchers requires time dedicated to hands on experience in clinical or basic science research. Medical students often have a strong interest in conducting research in more depth than time allows during the busy four-year curriculum of medical school. As a research-intense institution, UCSD has a commitment towards producing graduates who have the training and experience to successfully continue down the educational pipeline towards careers in academic medicine.

The MedGap program seeks to meet the goal of developing the next generation of physician researchers through providing support for UCSD medical students participating in a yearlong research program.

Clinical and translational research training program:  

The program draws support from the UCSD School of Medicine and the ACTRI.

UCSD medical students will participate in this 12-month program between their 3rd and 4th years of medical school. Students in the program will identify a UCSD faculty research mentor, and will work in their mentor's lab or research group over the year. Students will receive training in biostatistics (2 courses), and will have the option to further their research education with supplemental courses within and outside UCSD. The seminar series will incorporate high-yield presentations on research skills, and will incorporate a works-in-progress series where students present their ongoing research.

Application and review process:  

Students apply to the program through a structured application:

  • Clinical, translational, health services, outcomes, and basic science research proposals (the latter with a translational focus) will all be considered for support. All research projects must occur under the mentorship of a UCSD faculty mentor.
  • The application will include a personal statement (max 1 page), mentor NIH biosketch, training plan/goals (1 page) and a research proposal.
  • The research proposal (5 pages max, 1.15 line spacing) consists of specific aims, background and significance of the work, and the research approach (not including references). 

Applications will be reviewed by a faculty committee which includes the program directors, members of the ACTRI Education Committee, and leadership from the Division of Medical Education within the School of Medicine. Students may pursue a Master’s degree concurrently with this research, but this program will not support tuition costs for a Master’s degree. For those who pursue a Master’s degree the rationale for the degree should be clearly articulated in the student’s research training plan.
Click here for application supplemental guidance.

Financial support:  

Support will be provided at the current NIH predoctoral stipend levels ($25,320/year, divided into every other month allocations), and will include a health insurance supplement of $4680, equivalent to SHIP (Student Health Insurance Plan) for three quarters.


Application deadlines will be posted in the fall each year, though typically the application due date will fall in February. Please feel free to contact the new program director Dr. H. Irene Su with questions about the program.

Mentoring and Career Development Resources

Effective mentoring is a critical component of translational research. Below are mentorship and career development resources at UC San Diego and other organizations.

Completing an Individual Development Plan (IDP) is an important early step in career development, and can help initiate successful mentorship. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced that any NIH-funded graduate student and postdoctoral scholar should have an IDP. New UC San Diego guidelines encourage all graduate students and postdocs, regardless of funding mechanism, to complete IDPs. Junior faculty and research staff may also create an individual development plan to facilitate career development.

In addition, creating a formalized Mentor Compact clarifies roles and expectations from the start of a mentorship. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) created a mentor compact template for postdoctoral researchers to use with their mentors. With AAMC's permission, we have broadened the scope to create a form that can be used by others as well. Access the modified mentor compact. Document may be further modified to suit your mentorship needs.


For Faculty:

For general information about UC San Diego's faculty mentoring program, including roles and responsibilities of mentors and mentees, please visit Academic Affairs.

UC San Diego Health Sciences National Center of Leadership in Academic Medicine (NCLAM) is a unique UC San Diego faculty development program created to support junior Health Sciences faculty through the initial years of adjustment after they choose academic careers. Provided by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences, NCLAM brings together a group of junior faculty for a seven-month program that includes faculty development workshops, a junior/senior mentoring relationship based on a professional development contract, academic strategic career planning, and individual academic performance counseling sessions. The program emphasizes an understanding of the UC San Diego Health Sciences educational mission, as well as the research and clinical practice environment.

The UC San Diego Clinical Research Enhancement through Supplemental Training (CREST) and Master of Advanced Studies in Clinical Research (MAS) programs offer broad-based curricula encompassing major areas of clinical research. There are now several opportunities for faculty involvement as trainees, mentors, lecturers, project or dataset advisors, or directors of learning modules. For more information, please contact Maureen Eijsermans.

For Postdoctoral Researchers:

UC San Diego Office of Postdoctoral and Visiting Scholar Affairs provides an overview of the Individual Development Plan and other mentoring resources.

For Research Staff:

Career Connection is a free, comprehensive career development program for UC San Diego staff. It provides information and tools to assist you in achieving greater job satisfaction, current job enhancement, and lateral or upward career mobility. All UC San Diego staff employees, retirees and individuals on lay-off status are eligible to join Career Connection.

The UC San Diego Health Science Research Compliance Program offers Research Coordinator and Administrator Training (RCAT) for all UC San Diego research staff. The program consists of monthly training sessions in which research staff will have an opportunity to network with their peers, learn about current research issues, and how to effectively conduct research at UC San Diego. The program is designed to provide research staff with the necessary foundation to conduct research at UC San Diego from the receipt of protocol through study closure. Please contact the UC San Diego Health Science Research Compliance Program for more information.

For Students:

The NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education has published a guide to selecting a research mentor.  

The Faculty Mentor Program is a two-quarter program that helps UC San Diego undergraduates find research positions with faculty mentors. Students receive two quarters of independent study credit, attend training sessions on topics such as how to present at an academic conference and how to write a research paper, and present at the annual FMP Research Symposium. All majors and disciplines are welcome. For information, please contact program coordinator Jessica Davis at

For NIH Training Grant Directors and Applicants:

The UC San Diego ACTRI Education, Training, and Career Development Program provides consultations regarding incorporating mentoring into your training grants and proposals. Please contact the UC San Diego ACTRI Education, Training, and Career Development Program for more information.

Additional External Mentoring Resources

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has several mentoring resources.

UCSF's Clinical and Translational Science Institute has a Mentor Development Program seminar. Course materials for various aspects of mentorship are available free to the public.

Career Development Award Seminar Series

This series demystifies scientific communication. The sessions are increasingly interactive and participants are required to bring in their own writing and reviewers’ comments to discuss and learn from each other. The series also includes some sessions on “career husbandry:” how to help trainees develop crucial skills needed for a successful research career. The series follows the academic year, and there is one seminar each month.

The series is open to Early Career K or equivalent Career Development awardees from UC San Diego, San Diego State University, and partner institutions.

Past Seminar Videos

Some segments of our seminar series are recorded and made available for general viewing. To watch one of these sessions, please click on the relevant link below. This will lead you to the ACTRI’s YouTube Channel, where you can watch the sessions directly.

Diversity Supplement Resources

What is a diversity supplement?
  1. NIH Research Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research (Admin Supplement)  provides additional funds to principal investigators to recruit eligible investigators from underrepresented groups to engage in research experiences in the biomedical, behavioral, clinical, and social sciences.  
  2. Provides funding for trainees and faculty to work on an existing NIH-funded project with 2 award years or more left.  
  3. Much less competitive than peer-reviewed grant funding mechanisms and can provide an excellent entry point for a research career. 
  4. Goal: to enhance the diversity of the research workforce by recruiting and supporting students, post doctorates, and eligible faculty investigators from historically marginalized and underrepresented backgrounds, including those from groups that have been shown to be nationally underrepresented in health-related research.

Where can I find out more information about them?

How to apply?

We are using this site to identify candidates and PIs interested in pursuing diversity supplements and potentially facilitating connections as a resource. We are gathering names and pertinent information.  If submitting an inquiry, please let us know a little bit about what specifically you are looking for in terms of a project and your current research interests.

You can Submit an Inquiry if one of the following choices applies to you:  

  1. I believe I am eligible for a diversity supplement and I want to know how to find someone to work with on a project.
  2. I am a PI and am interested in how to find an eligible candidate to apply for a diversity supplement who wants to work on my project.
  3. I have a general question about diversity supplements, eligibility, how to apply, deadlines, etc.

Diversity Supplement Repository

Our Diversity Supplement Repository is a collection of successfully funded NIH and NSF research projects made available as a resource for anyone affiliated with UCSD or another institution to review by the UCSD community and beyond.

We are grateful to the generosity of UCSD and UCLA Principal Investigators and award recipients who have agreed to donate their successful grant applications for the purpose of sharing with grant writers, investigators at various stages of their careers, residents, students, volunteers and others interested in developing future successful applications. Because these are voluntary contributions, we need to respect the confidential nature of each individual application. We will allow secure access to the repository for affiliated individuals who complete a request form and agree to follow specific terms of use. Our team will approve access and maintain a list for our future reference.

Submit Access Request

Please use the “Submit Access Request” button to open a Diversity Supplement Request Form which routes to our team when you send your request. Please enter your information in the form and follow the steps for completing our Terms of Use attestation toward the bottom. Be sure to open the “Click Here” link that fits you best and DocuSign will open the corresponding Attestation. Once completed, click the finish button in DocuSign and please download a copy to be uploaded into the Request Form by dragging and dropping. Once submitted, our team will review and be in contact by email within 1-3 business days to accept your request. Upon acceptance, two separate emails will be sent: 1) a OneDrive link for accessing links within a table of contents listing our selection of successful applications and 2) a password for opening any application’s link.  

Game Based Learning

ACTRI Teaches Team Science Through Gaming

Welcome to the UCSD Game Factory.  We are a research unit within the UCSD School of Medicine exploring the benefits of games in medical education. We take both our inspiration and our challenges from our faculty. Our games have taken on such diverse issues as properly submitting and IRB application, understanding the fiscal consequence of medical decisions and the practical use of Clinical Practice Guidelines.

IRB Please Video Game

Screen shot of avatars in IRB Please game scenario.

IRB Please is designed to complement existing training (such as CITI) to teach PIs the common mistakes made in filling out IRB paperwork. Avoiding common mistakes results in efficient, and less frustrating, approval to begin clinical studies. Your participation and feedback will help us improve on our mission. IRB Please takes about thirty minutes to complete and is from the perspective of an IRB Analyst. You can play as often as you wish and at the end of each session you will receive a score, be placed on a leaderboard, as well as receive feedback on the types of mistakes, if any, you may make in IRB Applications.

To access the game, please click on this link and complete the brief survey to receive your instructions and download.


Clinical Trials Video Game

Screen shot of avatars in Clinical Trials game waiting room.

UC San Diego Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute (ACTRI) is pleased to introduce an online game to teach team science. The Clinical Trials Video Game is a novel online learning platform that uses a multiplayer video game interface to reinforce teamwork skills such as communication and shared strategy. It has been beta tested with diverse trainees, including medical students, early career “K” awardees, post-doctoral fellows and Master’s students. Different techniques of collaboration can be tested interactively by the participants, who learn how to adapt team strategies. ACTRI collaborated with UC San Diego Rady School of Management to develop the game. It is now in production, and is being disseminated to University of California BRAID sites and the University of Pittsburgh for initial testing.

To access the game, please open the PDF, “Facilitator Guide—Clinical Trials Video Game,” and follow the instructions.