Training Resident Doctors as Innovators in Science (TARDIS)

About the Program

UT Southwestern Medical Center (UTSW) was awarded 1 of 5 national Physician Scientist Institutional Awards by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund to develop our “Training Resident Doctors as Innovators in Science (TARDIS)” program. TARDIS is a residency-focused initiative that will help develop one-to-two-year, laboratory-based research training tracks characterized by highly individualized mentorship augmented by specialized training, faculty expertise, and technology platforms. The program will continuously support the research residency-fellowship-faculty career transitions for trainees, encompassing the appointment of trainees as faculty upon attainment of a K or equivalent career development award.

Mission and Philosophy

The mission of TARDIS is to create and nurture a culture of enthusiasm for residency research at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Our philosophy is that successful MD-based researchers arise from inquisitive MD trainees - the ones who ask the "whys and how’s" about health and disease - who are embraced by a culture of sustained basic science investigation. This culture is created by tiered research mentorship committees who support residents throughout training, reinforcing his/her commitment to a career in science and beyond.

Program Structure

Tiered Mentoring

Many MD residents never consider a research career path because the physician-scientist is not a part of their lexicon, and/or they have no “near-peer” role models resulting from limited exposure to age-, gender-, ethnicity-, and/or race- physician-scientist trainees. A tiered mentoring structure encompasses a PI, a junior faculty member, and a near-peer mentor – thereby engendering a sense of community with accomplishment and the evolution of exciting and plausible plans for a future research career. Through Tiered Mentoring, TARDIS will support the resident throughout training, reinforcing her/his commitment to a career in science, and mitigating real and perceived barriers to MD-based research.

Resident Research-Intensive Training Experience (R2 ITE) Track

The R2 ITE Track in Pediatrics, Surgery, and Internal Medicine enables continuous research engagement during residency and its transitions. Administered by the TARDIS, the R2 ITE track encompasses a 1-2 year laboratory-based research program, work-in-progress seminars, rigorous journal clubs lead by faculty investigators and fellows, and career planning.

Financial Support

Salaries during the TARDIS gap year will be commensurate with the current salary scale offered for the traditional categorical residents. Additionally, trainees will receive a stipend for purchasing books, laboratory consumables, funding research project needs, attending a scientific meeting, and debt abatement.


TARDIS is designed for individuals who hold an M.D. or M.D./Ph.D. degree. M.D.s with a Master's degree and/or other substantial research experience will also be considered.

Current residents within the departments of Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, and Surgery are encouraged to apply. Individuals seeking entry into TARDIS will be independently interviewed and reviewed by members of the TARDIS Executive Committee.

Application Requirements

  • Meet with the Residency Program Director to discuss participation in the TARDIS Program.
  • Meet with Dr. Dwight Towler to discuss the desire to obtain investigative training, any known specific research interests, and long-term career plans and goals.
  • Submit completed application form (fillable PDF) with CV to Marieshia Hicks.
  • Program Director will submit nomination letter to TARDIS Executive Committee.
  • Interview with TARDIS Executive Committee.

Application Timeline

  • July 1: The TARDIS application opens and is available to UTSW residents in Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, and Surgery.
  • August 1: TARDIS application screening begins
  • September–December: TARDIS interviews
  • By early February: TARDIS interviewees are notified of final acceptance decisions.
  • Program entry: July 1 at the earliest, but could be later.