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Predoctoral & Postdoctoral Training
in Clinical & Translational Sciences
at UTHealth Houston and MD Anderson Cancer Center

In general, "translational" science can be classified into four categories: T1, T2, T3, T4.

T1 / T2 [translating to patients]: making & adapting laboratory discoveries for treatment of human disease

T3 / T4 [translating to community]: establishing, disseminating, & implementing best practices for clinic- and community-based interventions

Translational research is not unidirectional; it is a type of continuum.  Community observations can inspire laboratory experiments just as laboratory animal studies can influence clinical treatment and community prevention initiatives.  And, at every T level, information needs to be disseminated for implementation.

In this program:

Clinical Research involves direct human subject interaction.

Translational Research can:

  • improve human health by reducing incidence, morbidity, or mortality of disease
  • make discoveries in a research laboratory and/or preclinical study, which can be developed into human studies
  • enhance the adoption of best practices in the community; comparative effectiveness of prevention and treatment

[definitions modified from recommendations by the NCI Translational Working Group (2006) and the CTSA RFA-RM-10-020]


CCTS TL1 Overview

  • About CCTS TL1

    The NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program was launched in 2006 and is funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS). The CTSA program seeks to create “...a definable home for clinical and translational research.” To date, there are more than 50 CTSA Program hubs at institutions across the country.

    UTHealth Houston was one of the first universities, of only twelve, granted a CTSA in 2006, and the UTHealth Houston award was renewed in 2012 and 2019. The UTHealth Houston CTSA is held in partnership with MD Anderson Cancer Center and Memorial Hermann Hospital, and the program extends across all schools offering doctoral training in the UTHealth Houston system.

    UTHealth Houston Schools:

    MD Anderson UTHealth Houston Graduate School 

    McGovern Medical School 

    Cizik School of Nursing

    McWilliams School of Biomedical Informatics

    School of Dentistry

    School of Public Health 

    The UT Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences (CCTS) serves as the central organizing entity for all of the Houston CTSA components, which includes TL1 and KL2 training programs. The CCTS TL1 Program is coordinated through the MD Anderson UTHealth Houston Graduate School, which is a joint venture of UTHealth Houston and MD Anderson Cancer Center. The TL1 program is open to PhD (including MD/PhD) predoctoral students from across the UTHealth Houston Schools and postdoctoral trainees at UTHealth Houston and MD Anderson Cancer Center who meet the eligibility criteria (see Trainee Eligibility). Trainees accepted into the TL1 Program receive a stipend, health insurance, and modest travel funds in addition to resources and training in clinical and translational science.

    Because UTHealth Houston is comprised of schools, trainees’ research projects can be incredibly diverse – a characteristic that the TL1 Program views as a distinct advantage. Appointment to the TL1 program requires trainees to conduct scientifically rigorous research studies that are either clinical or translational in nature. The studies may fall anywhere on the translational research continuum and may be classified into any field, from epidemiological health disparities practices to pre-clinical cancer or cardiovascular therapies to structural and functional imaging of disease states. 

    Further, through the Texas Regional CTSA Consortium, the CCTS TL1 Trainees have access to resources and training opportunities at the three other CTSA institutions in Texas:

    UT Health Science Center at San Antonio
    UT Medical Branch in Galveston
    UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas

  • Leadership


    Joya Chandra, PhD 
    Department of Pediatrics Research and Department of Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis
    Co-Director, Center for Energy Balance in Cancer Prevention and Survivorship
    MD Anderson Cancer Center

    Jeffery A. Frost, PhD 
    Associate Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs, ad interim, MD Anderson UTHealth Houston Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
    Professor, Integrative Biology & Pharmacology
    Director, UTHealth Houston GradSURP
    Director, Molecular and Translational Medicine Scholar Concentration, McGovern Medical School


    Shervin Assassi, MD, MS
    Professor, Division Director, Division Of Rheumatology
    McGovern Medical School at UTHealth

    Robert C. Bast, MD 
    Vice President for Translational Research
    Internist and Professor of Medicine, Department of Experimental Therapeutics
    Harry Carothers Wiess Distinguished University Chair for Cancer Research
    MD Anderson Cancer Center

  • Training Curriculum

    The TL1 is an enrichment pathway for highly qualified predoctoral students and postdoctoral fellows.  It prepares them to rapidly integrate their skills into the clinical and translational sciences workforce. 

    We accomplish this by targeting stage-specific (pre- versus post-doctoral) training that comprises a competency-based curriculum along with career development enrichment pertinent to the translational workforce.  


    Core Competencies in Translational Research

    Our competency-based curriculum encompasses fundamental, thematic areas of clinical and translational sciences but also allows considerable flexibility in how each competency is achieved to fit each trainee’s research interests and career stage-specific goals.

    Clinical & Community Engagement

    All TL1 trainees are required to have a clinical mentor and obtain compliance and other training to undertake shadowing every month. This opportunity not only allows exposure to a clinical setting but also community (patient) engagement to increase their understanding of the population most immediately affected by their research (T1/T2 translation) and to promote understanding and awareness of the public population that will benefit from translational research (T3/T4).

    Translational Science Seminar Series

    The TL1 Core Monthly Seminar Series promotes peer and near-peer education, discussion, and debate about translational science and enhances research communication skills and career development.

    Training Plan Agreement

    Upon acceptance into the TL1 Program, Trainees are expected to confer with their mentors to devise a customized Training Plan outlining proposed coursework and clinical shadowing. Once approved by the TL1 Co-Directors, the Training Plan is signed by the Trainee, Mentor, and Co-Directors. For competitive renewal of the TL1, Trainees must show regular participation in TL1 Program activities, progress along their TL1 Training Plan, and progress within their home degree program.

    National TL1 Predoctoral Meeting

    All trainees are required to attend and present their work at the annual meeting of the Association for Clinical and Translational Science at least once during their TL1 training period. At the meeting, TL1 programs from across the country convene with opportunities to gain advocacy experience by visiting Congress on Capitol Hill and to network with translational scientists from around the country. 

    Questions about the TL1 Training Curriculum should be addressed to Jewel Elliott (713-500-9886).

  • Trainee Eligibility

    Research Eligibility Criteria

    To be eligible for the TL1 Program, an applicant's research must be broadly categorized as clinical or translational science.

    • Clinical Research involves direct human subject interaction.
    • Translational Research may:
      • improve human health by reducing incidence, morbidity, or mortality of disease
      • make discoveries in the research laboratory and/or preclinical study, which are readily developed into studies in humans
      • enhance the adoption of best practices in the community; comparative effectiveness of prevention and treatment

    Trainee Eligibility Criteria

    The CCTS TL1 Program supports a total of 11 predoctoral and 4 postdoctoral trainee slots that provide up to two (2) years of full stipends, tuition, health insurance, and modest travel funds.

    The TL1 Program is open to:

    • PhD Students:
      • Full-time, good academic standing at the MD Anderson UTHealth Graduate School, UTHealth School of Biomedical Informatics, UTHealth School of Public Health or Cizik School of Nursing.
      • 2nd or 3rd year
    •  MD/PhD Students:
      • Full-time, good academic standing at the MD Anderson UTHealth Graduate School, and McGovern Medical School.
      • 1st or 2nd year of the PhD portion of training
    • Postdoctoral Scholars:
      • PhD degree with 0-1 years of postdoctoral training at any institution
      • Postdoctoral appointment at UTHealth or MD Anderson Cancer Center

    * All applicants must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.*

     Awardees are expected to devote 100% professional effort to this award; no other grant salary support or outside employment is permitted.

    Please note: No trainee may have a cumulative total of more than 5 years of NRSA support, including other training grant (T32) appointments and individual Fellowships (i.e. F30, F31, F32)

    NIH regulations do not permit the provision of stipends for students pursuing a professional degree or for students in dual-degree programs (e.g., MD/PhD) while they are enrolled in the professional school portion of their training.

  • Applications

    The 2024 Application period is now closed 


    September 29, 2023, 5PM Applications Due
    Early October Application Review
    Early November Candidate Selection
    January 1, 2023 Appointments Begin

    Applying to the TL1 Program

    Appointments to the training grant are for 12 months with the option of competitive renewal for an additional 12-month appointment for a maximum of 2 years.  Renewal of appointment is contingent upon annual evaluation of performance metrics and full participation in the program.

    All TL1 Trainees are expected to develop a curriculum/training plan that will enable them to achieve core competencies in clinical and translational research. These competencies are fulfilled by conducting research, clinical shadowing, completing clinical and translational courses offered by participating CCTS schools and institutions, and participating in seminars, research retreats, and other activities that provide training in clinical and translational research.

    Eligibility Criteria

    To be eligible for the TL1 Program, applicants must be predoctoral student or postdoctoral trainee currently conducting a clinical or translational research project.  Additional eligibility criteria can be found above.

    Application Materials

    Applications are to be submitted online: TL1 Application Portal. All supporting documents should be uploaded as individual PDF files.  Text is single spaced, 11pt Arial font, with ½-inch margins on all sides.

    1. Cover Form (download here)
    2. Trainee Biosketch (5 pages)
      1. Please include an NIH-formatted Fellowship Applicant Biosketch
      2. NIH Biosketch Instructions along with examples can be found at:
    3. Mentor Biosketch (5 pages)
      1. Please include an NIH-formatted Biosketch
    4. Co-Mentor Biosketch (if applicable) (5 pages)
      1. Please include an NIH formatted Biosketch
    5. Clinical Mentor Biosketch (5 pages)
      1. Please include an NIH-formatted Biosketch
    6. Career Goals and Training Plan (2 pages)
      1. Describe your long-term career goals and how the combination of past research experiences and the TL1 training program will contribute to achieving these goals
      2. Summarize the scientific and professional development activities you will undertake, including plans for clinical shadowing/activities, and explain how these activities will facilitate the transition to each subsequent career stage
    7. Research Proposal
      1. Specific Aims (1 page)
        1. A summary of the proposed project (rationale/background, gap in knowledge), hypothesis statement, and 2-3 specific aims that briefly outline how each aim will address the hypothesis
        2. The clinical and/or translational significance to human health must be clearly outlined
      2. Research Strategy (5 pages)
        1. Research proposal detailing the research project, specific aims, experimental approaches, anticipated outcomes, potential pitfalls and alternative approaches
        2. Proposals will be evaluated for
          1. Clinical and/or translational significance to human health
          2. Approach
          3. Innovation
      3. Literature Cited (no page limit)
    8. Letters of Support (2 pages each)
      1. Please provide letters of support from your Mentor, Co-mentor (if applicable), and clinical mentor who you plan to shadow
      2. Letters should demonstrate the candidate’s commitment to a career in clinical/translational sciences and how the trainee will benefit from training in the TL1 program

    Review Criteria

    Applications are reviewed by the TL1 Leadership and Internal Advisory Board. Appointments are made based on the scientific merit of the proposal including: the student's accomplishments; the mentor's accomplishments and ability to support the student's clinical/translational research; and the presence or potential for clinical and basic science collaborations.

    For more information on trainee eligibility or application, please contact Jewel Elliott (713.500.9886).

CCTS TL1 Policies

  • Publication Policy

    Grant Acknowledgement

    Each publication, press release, or other document (e.g., posters) referencing research supported by an NIH award (including the CCTS TL1) must include an acknowledgment of NIH award support and a disclaimer such as:

    Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Numbers TL1TR003169 and UL1TR003167. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


    Public Access 


    Award recipients are required to comply with the NIH Public Access Policy, such that scientists are required to submit final peer-reviewed journal manuscripts that arise from NIH funds to the digital archive PubMed Central (PMC), upon acceptance for publication. To help advance science and improve human health, the Policy requires that these papers are accessible to the public on PMC no later than 12 months after publication. 

    The appropriate method for submitting your manuscript is determined by your journal’s publisher.  For specifics on how to submit your article to PMC, see

    For additional information, please visit: 


    For TL1 Annual Report

    Upon publication, please also send the PMID and/or PMCID number for inclusion in annual reporting.

    TL1 Trainees are required to have an ORCID number as mandated by NIH notice NOT-OD-19-109 and  to facilitate the TL1 Program maintaining a publication list for annual reports.

  • Travel Policy

    To Scientific Meetings

    There are modest travel funds available to CCTS TL1 Trainees.  Travel fund requests must be made at least two (2) months in advance of proposed travel and must include:

    • Meeting website
    • First-author abstract to be presented by the Trainee at the meeting
    • Letter of support from the Mentor, outlining the educational relevance of the proposed travel

    For all travel, Trainees are asked to seek travel funds from their School, Program, or Department in addition to TL1 travel funds.


    TL1 National Meeting

    Trainees are encouraged to attend the National TL1 Predoctoral Meeting as it is an opportunity to network with diverse translational scientists around the country. 

    Questions regarding TL1 Travel should be directed to Jewel Elliott (713-500-9886).

Microscope Image for CCTS TL1 Contact Us

Contact Us


Joya Chandra, PhD
[email protected] 

Jeffrey A. Frost, PhD 
[email protected] 


Shervin Assassi, MD  
[email protected]

Robert C. Bast, MD
[email protected] 

Program Contact

Jewel Elliott, MPA
[email protected]