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Clinical and Translational Research

Four researchers collaborate in the lab
Researchers collaborate in the lab.

Understanding the basic principles involved in designing and conducting clinical and translational research is an essential component of modern medical education. The Clinical and Translational Research (CTR) Track provides medical students with an exciting and stimulating immersion into research that spans the entire range of medical disciplines.

The track provides infrastructure for medical students to participate, design, and lead clinical and translational research projects based on personal interests. Students participate in research projects under the mentorship of established clinical and translational investigators who are eager to teach and mentor.

Learning Objectives

After completing the track, students will be able to:

  • Describe the basic principles of clinical research methods
  • Write a research question and develop a research hypothesis statement
  • Describe the key components of responsible conduct of research including elements of human research protection
  • Appreciate the importance of a team science approach to problem-solving in clinical and translational research
  • Describe methods and processes involved in data collection and analysis in clinical research
  • Critically analyze research papers and identify strengths and weaknesses of research design and interpretation therein
  • Appreciate principles of good clinical practice and HIPAA regulations for human subject research
  • Write a clinical/translational research protocol fit for submission to the Institutional Review Board (IRB)

Methods of Instruction

Mentor Identification and Project Selection

Students are required to identify a mentor in their field of interest three months in advance to set up an interview and discuss their potential research project. It is recommended that students reach out to multiple mentors. The student must meet with the potential mentor prior to submitting a project proposal to the Clinical and Translational Research Track. It is anticipated that the vast majority of students will participate in ongoing research projects in the mentor’s domain. Other resources to find mentors who have worked with students before are available in the project indexes.

The Research by Department list also can help you find clinicians who might be involved in basic research.


All students will receive an instruction in basic principles of clinical and translational research, including hypothesis generation and testing, protocol development, clinical research methods and techniques, data analysis and synthesis, scientific manuscript writing and publication methods, and responsible conduct of research. This instruction will come in the form of online training and classroom lectures.

Research Project

Each research project will provide hands-on experience in conducting clinical/translational research. The student will work closely with their research mentor in developing a new or ongoing research project emanating from their mentor’s laboratory or clinics. The research project should demonstrate the advancement of a hypothesis and include analytical methods for the new data created.

Given the duration of the rotation, most students likely will participate in an ongoing project. This will be determined by the mentor on an individual basis. For projects requiring IRB approval, the student is required to meet with the mentor and undergo all applicable training and approvals (IRB approval, human subjects training, etc.) prior to the start date of the project.

Some students and their mentors may wish to continue to participate in their project beyond the 12-week period. The student and mentor will determine the necessary arrangements for the project.

Student Responsibilities

Students are responsible for contacting potential mentors and finding a research project in a timely manner. The track director and coordinator are available to assist in this endeavor.

During the rotation, the student will attend didactic components and complete any requested online training. Each student will be responsible for hands-on experiences as assigned by the research mentor and their research team. The student is accountable to both the on-site mentor and the track director. Some research teams may be composed of more than one student. In such cases, each student will be assigned specific roles for participation in the selected research project.


At the conclusion of the scholarly activity project, each student is required to prepare and submit a report of 5-10 pages, excluding references and figures. This report should be formatted as a scientific manuscript and should include:

  1. The problem explored
  2. The hypothesis tested
  3. Methods employed
  4. Results obtained
  5. Conclusions drawn

Students also will present their research report to a meeting of interested faculty, residents, and students. Students will be encouraged to disseminate their findings at local, national, and international conferences.

The grade for the scholarly activity track will be pass/fail, based on the student’s final paper and the evaluation by the mentor. The final paper will be graded according to established guidelines across all the scholarly activity tracks.