Courses and Descriptions

Didactic Program Requirements

UT Southwestern Medical Center offers one of the nation’s most comprehensive clinical research curricula. Currently, 21 full-semester courses in research principles and methods are offered through the UT Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

These didactic courses were developed entirely with the clinical and translational investigator in mind and were not taken from other previously designed courses or programs. Teaching faculty actively practice clinical and translational science with a wide range of expertise including clinical research design and methods, biostatistics, epidemiology, genetics, and patient centered outcomes and comparative effectiveness research.

For career development purposes, trainees may also be interested in some of these free online courses offered through Coursera. Academic credit cannot be awarded for these courses.

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Socratic Program Requirements

This program includes a highly innovative Socratic curriculum to complement the didactic curriculum, which consists of a rich selection of seminars and workshops, conducted using an interactive approach that provides continuous opportunities for clinical investigators to exchange ideas, present and defend their work, critique the work of others, promote multidisciplinary team-building, build an institutional reputation as an expert in their field, and participate in forums imitating real-life conditions of peer-review.

Translational Science Forum
Every Wednesday; noon – 1 p.m.

The goal of the Translational Science Forum is to provide an open, community-based opportunity for early career clinical investigators to improve their skills in clinical research design and analysis, and in the presentation of research plans and data. Expert forum panel members will ask the presenter general and specific questions about any and all aspects of the project. Participation builds organization and presentation skills, elicits critique from campus stakeholders, and exposes those in attendance to the wide variety of clinical research on campus. 

Scholar Retreats

Scholars present their independent research ideas before a group of their peers, other scholars’ mentors, and other experts in research design, methodology, and analysis. The participation and feedback to the Clinical Scholars is critical to their project and career development. All program students are invited to this biannual event.

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Practicum Requirements

Complete Practicum Descriptions & Requirements

The primary goal of the practicum research experience is to take the student through all of the experiences typical of an independent clinical investigator, while in a supportive, mentored environment. Practicum components are selected for the trainee based on degree plan.

Mentored Research Project

The Mentored Research Project is intended to be a hands-on training experience, and should serve as an introduction to clinical or translational research practices. This training phase may involve the ongoing research projects of the scientific mentor, and the trainee will rely primarily on the resources already available for the ongoing research.

The study may involve retrospective and/or prospective collection of data. In both retrospective and prospective studies, the trainee must be actively involved in the analysis of data, the preparation of presentations, and the writing of manuscripts. The trainee may also participate in the following activities: the development of protocols, the submission of IRB documents, the accrual of patients for prospective studies, etc. The trainee’s contributions to the project should be recognized by co-authorship (as appropriate) on abstracts, presentations and manuscripts.

Critical Literature Review

The trainee will write an original and critical review of the literature that synthesizes current knowledge and provides unique insights in a specific area of focus that will be career-establishing. The review should be thorough, analyzing, and weighing the available evidence. The trainee is expected to critically review papers cited, identify strengths and weaknesses, and raise specific questions that need to be prospectively addressed in future research. These questions may form the basis for the Independent Research Project. Specifically, the review should:

  • Dissect the key papers with respect to strengths and weaknesses, synthesizing current knowledge in the field of study.
  • Clearly identify gaps of knowledge in that field.
  • Focus on what the trainee perceives as the current priorities for research in the field. Include hypotheses and/or types of studies that would move the field forward, or propose research strategies that the trainee envisions will fill those gaps.

Example of successful Critical Literature Reviews:
The Immunology of Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma

Early Blood‐Based Resuscitation after Traumatic Injury: the Good, the Bad...not so Ugly?

Nutrient Excess: Mechanisms of Injury

Sleep and recovery from critical illness and injury: A review of theory, current practice, and future directions

Independent Research Project

During the second and third years, the Clinical Scholar will carry out an Independent Research Project as the principal investigator overseeing a multidisciplinary research team. The team may include a biostatistician, data manager, research coordinator, collaborators and consultants. Initial support for the Independent Research Project may be provided by resources available to all Clinical Scholars (through the Department of Clinical Sciences and the Center for Translational Medicine) and specific financial resources allocated to each Scholar by his or her mentor(s) and department. Using these resources, the Scholar will carry out the research plan. 

The study should examine an important clinical and/or translational question, and the goal is to obtain interpretable data that can advance the field. The project should include a hypothesis/specific aims, background/rationale, study design/methods, literature cited, importance to career plan, and a detailed budget and justification. The project must be prospectively planned with the Scholar clearly identified as the PI.

Complete the Mentored Practicum Submission Form, the Independent Research Proposal Form, and the Mentor Approval Form

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Research Grant Application

As the capstone to the program, the trainee writes a competitive and properly formatted extramural grant application (NIH K23, K08, or equivalent foundation grant, such as AHA; all others need to be approved by the Career Development Committee in advance). It is also acceptable to turn in an R award grant application. The grant application will be developed with the close advice and guidance of the trainee’s mentor(s). The plan proposed by the trainee will have all of the elements of a formal research grant application and will use standard NIH forms (or similar forms for foundation-based career development awards). The trainee’s Critical Literature Review may form the background and significance of the proposal; results from the Mentored Clinical Research Project and Independent Research Project may be used as preliminary results in the grant application.

Example of a Successful Research Grant Application