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Clinician-Scientist Mentored Training: The K12, K08 and K23 NIH Program

The Wilmer Eye Institute is a premier ophthalmic clinical, research and teaching center, having trained more clinician-scientists through the K award mechanisms than any other institution (K08, K12, K23). Our mentored scholars have an unsurpassed record of subsequent and ongoing NIH R01 funding and most have maintained full-time faculty teaching and research roles as leaders of multidisciplinary teams. Wilmer’s 135 full time faculty members are #1 in awarded federal vision research dollars. Wilmer’s K12 program was the first to be funded by NEI and our clinician—scientist scholars have most often successfully transitioned from K12 to K08 or K23 status. Of those whose K awards were completed at Wilmer, 66% have achieved NIH funding as principal investigators of R series grants, substantially exceeding the recent published success rate of 13% for K awardees.

Our goal is to facilitate the career of clinician—scientists for the vision research community through multidisciplinary training programs that add new approaches to the understanding of the epidemiology, pathogenesis, and treatment of visual disorders. Each scholar’s program has a mentor team with integrated and diverse expertise available among our research faculty. Research areas of study include laboratory or clinically-based programs for any of the ocular disease areas that represent high priorities for the National Eye Institute, including ocular genetics, molecular biology, therapeutics, bioengineering, “big data” methodology, and behavioral/quality of life effects of clinical conditions. The K mechanism guarantees 75% protected time for mentored training, at the salary level of Assistant Professor, while allowing continued clinical and surgical activity. The Wilmer K12 program chair and committee regularly review each scholar’s program to optimize the training experience. Typically, K programs begin immediately after subspecialty fellowship training. The program is open to US citizens or residents with M.D., M.D./Ph.D., O.D., O.D./Ph.D., and D.V.M. degrees.

Wilmer has shown that the trend toward fewer clinician—scientists holding grants can be reversed at institutions with active recruitment, diverse faculty mentor skills, detailed attention to scholar training programs, and departmental financial support early in the career of the clinician—scientist. If you are interested in discussing this career path, either at Wilmer or elsewhere, an initial telephone discussion can be scheduled with Harry Quigley, M.D., chair of Wilmer's K12 program through We are committed to increasing diversity in the ophthalmic research community. 

Full description of Wilmer's K12 program



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