Fellowship in Clinical Trials

Students in classroom

Developing the Penn Medicine Clinical Trialist Workforce

Clinical trial activity at Penn Medicine has steadily increased in volume and complexity over the past decade. While most of the growth has been evident in the realm of first/early-in-human studies we also recognize the value to trials that evaluate the implementation of treatment paradigms.

Junior faculty are increasingly interested in conducting investigator initiated clinical trials to test the effect of integrating new technologies into clinical care or to evaluate changes in clinical care that are not pursued by commercial sponsors.  As an institution we recognize that design, implementation, and reporting of clinical trials is a form of science conducted in humans that requires specialized training.

Fellowship in Clinical Trials

Program Overview

The objective of the Fellowship in Clinical Trials is to (i) train faculty wishing to become trialists; (ii) establish a mechanism that supports clinical trialists career trajectories, and (iii) facilitate the mission of Penn Medicine to translate scientific breakthroughs and clinical trial discoveries into treatment.

We aim to meet these objectives through (i) customized curriculum in clinical translational science, (ii) formal mentorship, (iii) facilitated access to resources that enables successful execution of a research project that involves the design, preparatory work, and conduction of a clinical trial, and (iv) a limited number of scholarships that would provide some salary support to protect a faculty member’s time to execute their research project.

The Fellowship in Clinical Trials is offered preferentially to instructors and assistant professors (within their first 3 years of appointment) at Penn Medicine. However, more advanced faculty considering a pivot in their career to clinical trials will be considered. Individuals will be selected to pursue training for 2 years. CT Fellows are required to devote 25% protected time to dedicate towards the Fellowship for a period of 2 years.

Admissions is on a rolling basis.

At the time of application, physicians must have, at a minimum, a partially-developed investigator-initiated clinical trial concept that can be ideally initiated within the two years of the fellowship. Expectations include that the physician will lead the development of the design of the clinical trial and its execution as the principal investigator under the guidance of an established clinical trialist who will serve as a mentor for the duration of the program.  The anticipated source of funding for the trial needs to be articulated at the time of application. Budget development and negotiation is considered an integral part of both the development of a research project and its feasibility therefore fellows should be included in these conversations, if possible, in advance of and during the fellowship.

The product or output of the program is a fully developed IRB approved trial that is enrolling by the end of year one. As a requirement of successful completion of the program, the fellow will be expected to prepare a manuscript for submission or a presentation at a national meeting.

Fellows pursue a customized career development plan. Pillars of the program are coursework tailored to the needs of the fellow, IRB membership, and ad hoc mentorship.

Sample coursework available to fellows include, but is not limited to:

  • Principles of drug development
  • Clinical trial design and protocol development
  • Operational study management and clinical trial execution
  • Regulatory principles
  • Intro to Biostatistics

ITMAT Ed Faculty and Staff provide suggestions based on the specific needs of the fellow. The option to advance to a more formal existing certificate or degree program are also available.

Fellows are encouraged to attend the ITMAT Education Professional Skills Development Program (PSDSP). This program supports clinical and translational scientists to successfully execute research endeavors on the path to independence. Sessions are designed to advance the knowledge, skills, and attributes in key competency areas to enhance clinical investigators’ abilities to collaborate, lead, direct, network, manage up, navigate conflicts, negotiate, and more.

Fellows will serve as an IRB member throughout the duration of the fellowship and be mentored by the IRB Chair. This membership experience will expose fellows to real issues, considerations, and solutions in human subject’s research and study design.

At the end of the 2-year fellowship, fellows are invited to present their research project experience, with a particular focus on hurdled encounters and how they overcame those barriers with successful strategies to past and present CT fellows.

Effective mentoring requires the primary mentor dedicate substantial time to ensure personal and professional development of the mentee. We recognize the importance of strong mentoring attributes and the significant time required to mentor effectively, thus experienced clinical trialists will serve in this role. The Mentor-Mentee Compact will be available to all mentors and mentees to initiate discussion and clarify expectations and responsibilities of both parties.  A member of the ITMAT Ed faculty will be assigned to provide programmatic mentorship throughout the duration of the program.

  • Applicants must have an MD degree
  • Applicants must be a dedicated clinician and committed to a career path in developing and implementing investigator initiated clinical trials
  • Preference is given to Instructors and Assistant Professors (within their first three years of appointment)
    • However, more advanced faculty considering a pivot in their career to clinical trials will be considered
  • Faculty in the AC, CE, and Tenure Track are eligible to apply
    • Preferential consideration is given to faculty in the AC track

Applicants to the Clinical Trials Fellowship may apply in tandem to the Clinical Trials Scholarship, which provides physicians up to 25% protected time to dedicate towards the fellowship for 2 years. The Clinical Trials Scholarship is part of the suite of ITMAT Ed Career Development Awards.

Application Requirements

Only one application is required for both the Fellowship Program and Fellowship Scholarship.

The application includes the following required items:

1. Application form which includes:

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Personal Statement:
    • A one-page description of the applicant’s academic track, career goals, and how the fellowship will support these goals
  • Other Support (Funding Support for Applicant):
    • A description of how the applicant’s time will be protected, or a request to be considered for the Clinical Trials Scholarship (indicate percent effort being requested –maximum amount available is 25% effort based on NIH funding maximums).
  • Research Statement: 2-3-page description of proposed trial or submit the IIT Protocol if it is available.

2. Letter of Support from Primary Mentor

  • The mentor's letter of support should comment on the following:
    • Commitment to mentor the candidate
    • Suitability of the candidate for the fellowship
    • Assessment of the value of the research project and its feasibility
    • Mentor’s prior experience mentoring clinical researchers
    • Candidate's access to clinical research support staff
    • Availability of funding for study execution
    • Presence of unresolved contractual obligations that need to be addressed

3. Letter of Support from Departmental Chair (Applicants should request their Department Chair email an attached letter of support to ITMAT Education at nkroushl@upenn.edu)

  • Commitment of the division/department to the candidate’s research direction and career goals
  • Guarantee of 25% protected time for the candidate to conduct clinical trials
  • Availability of resources for the candidate

Applicants, please add headers with your name to the applicable documents.

To submit an online application, you will need to create a CollegeNet account and follow the steps below

  1. Create a CollegeNet account. After logging into CollegeNet, select “Online Application”.
  2. Enter your Personal Information.  Save and continue to Program Information. 
  3. Choose “Perelman School of Medicine - Masters and Certificate Programs
    • Search and select “ITMAT Clinical Trials Fellowship"
    • Select "Summer 2023" term.
  4. You can enter information in stages, at your own pace, and access the application any number of times until submission.
  5. You will enter the recommender information into the system which will send the letter request to your primary mentor and department chair.
  6. Once the application has been fully submitted, you can return to your account to check the status of your application and letters from your recommender and department chair.

ITMAT Education Faculty and Administration encourage interested applicants to contact us.  Jessica German and Dr. Marina Cuchel will reach out to set up a time to discuss your interest in the Fellowship. Through this initial consult, program faculty and/or staff can gain understanding to how this program may best align with your career goals, connect interested applicants to current students or past fellows, answer questions about the application process, provide feedback on project proposals or mentorship.

Diverse teams of scientists bring an important range of experiences and perspectives that propel the collective potential for innovation. Thus, we seek to attract applications from diverse backgrounds, including diversity of race, ethnicity, work and life experiences, interests, culture, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, and those with disabilities.

  • I do not currently work at Penn. Am I eligible for the program and/or scholarship?
    • Clinical Trial Fellows must be employed at Penn upon entering the program.
  • What is the application timeline?
    • Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
  • Are all academic tracks able to apply for this program?
    • Tenure, CE, and AC track faculty are encouraged to apply.
  • Are PhDs eligible for this program?
    • This program is geared toward physicians.
  • Are more advanced faculty eligible to apply?
    • Advanced faculty considering a pivot in their career to clinical trials will be considered.
  • Can I apply for this program if I am not seeking financial support?
    • We encourage you to apply. Please indicate your funding sources in your application and describe your interests in this program.
  • Can I apply for this program if I am seeking partial or up to 25% protected time to conduct clinical trials?
    • We encourage you to apply. Please indicate your percent effort being requested and describe your interests in this program.

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Leadership & Administration

Emma A. Meagher, MD | ITMAT Ed Program Director | emma@upenn.edu

Marina Cuchel, MD, PhD | CTR Program Director | mcuchel@pennmedicine.upenn.edu

Jessica German, MSEd, | ITMAT Ed Associate Director and Admin Lead CTR | jbgerman@upenn.edu