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UCI School of Medicine Physician Scientist
Training Program (PSTP) Pilot

Physician scientists are physicians (MDs or DOs with or without additional degrees) who devote regular components of their professional effort to seek new knowledge about health, disease, or delivery of patient care through research. While all physicians receive training in medical science, physician scientists are trained to conduct an independent scientific investigation in the laboratory, clinic, or other settings. A physician scientist's in-depth clinical knowledge of human health and disease, combined with skills in scientific investigation and analysis, makes him/her uniquely resourceful. Physician scientists are well prepared to detect new threats to human health; develop potential new therapies, treatments, or means of prevention; communicate knowledgeably across disciplines and to lead scientific teams or organizations; and, guide important policy decisions, such as in drug approval.* 


The Program

The UCI-SOM Physician Scientist Training Program is a 2-year structured pilot program providing physician scientists with intensive mentorship and opportunities to apply for their first independent, federally funded awards (K08, K23) or other equivalent external career development awards. This program is supported by the Provost’s and Executive Vice Chancellor’s Research Growth Fund initiative, and is administered by the SOM Research Development Unit (RDU) with oversight by the SOM Associate Dean of Research Development and the Vice Deans of Clinical and Basic Research.

The pilot program will run from March 2021 to March 2023. 

PSTP leverages the wide range of resources at UCI, including those provided by the School of Medicine Offices of Research and of Academic Affairs, Institute of Clinical and Translational Science (ICTS), and the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center (CFCCC).  This is a competitive, 2-year program that incorporates the following elements: 

  • Formal and informal mentoring. 

  • Access to resources to facilitate appropriate study design, collection of pilot data, and preparation and submission of competitive grant applications.

  • Instruction in and structured support for navigating NIH and other extramural funding sources, grant writing and review, and grants management with the goal of successfully submitting independent applications

In addition, participants will also be able to tailor training according to their individual career and research goals. SOM RDU staff will work with physicians to ensure access to mentors and resources.


This program is open to physician scientists (MD, DO, or MD, PhD) who meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Holds a junior faculty position (typically instructor or assistant professor)

  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident   

  • Has not been a principal investigator or equivalent on any of the following:

    • NIH R01 (or equivalent

    • NIH career development award (e.g. K08, K23)

    • Equivalent Public Health Service or VA research grants/career awards.

  • Able to devote 30% effort (20% for surgeons) for the duration of the program. For those admitted to the program, certification of time commitment from a participant’s department chair or division chief will be required prior to program launch. 

  • Proposed research falls within the clinical & translational science research spectrum

  • Has at least one scientific mentor with aligned research expertise, extramural funding, and a strong commitment to guide and support the applicant’s proposed career development, research program and grant-writing goals. 

    • Candidates may and are encouraged to identify more than one mentor, i.e., a mentoring team if deemed advantageous for providing expert advice in all aspects of their research and career development.

Program Requirements and Milestones

Generally, 30% of a physician scientist’s full-time professional effort (20% for surgeons) must be devoted to research activities. The participant must be committed to attending programmatic events, communicating individualized training needs to SOM RDU staff, and reaching the milestones outlined below:

  • Attend orientation and workshops for grant funding, grant writing, and grants management.

  • Attend and prepare for all scheduled meetings with the scientific mentor mentoring team at least once a month.

  • Develop a grant writing schedule by the end of the first 3 months of the program and generate and circulate drafts of grant components for review by the end of the first 12 months.

  • Report on progress in the program and meet with the PSTP review committee at 6, 12, 18 and 24 months.

  • Submit an NIH K08 or K23 application by October 2022 or March 2023.

To Apply

Applications for the PSTP Pilot Program are closed. For inquiries, please email