Clinician-Scientist Training Program (CSTP) for Medical Students

Clinician-scientists translate scientific discovery into improved clinical care.

The University of Southern California (USC) Caruso Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery clinician-scientist training program (CSTP) is a 9-12 month program offering medical students the opportunity to be involved in meaningful research experiences with close mentorship by world-class faculty researchers. The program offers professional development, a chance to participate in a vibrant & collaborative research community, and will give trainees exposure to the unique and exciting career pathway of a clinician-scientist.

The program is available to medical students at any point during their training and will extend their graduation date by one year. Two medical student trainees will be accepted per year.

We are committed to training future generations of clinician-scientists from underrepresented backgrounds. Our CSTP will provide the scientific resources, professional mentorship, educational environment, and institutional support required to execute this charge. Increasing diversity in research improves the quality of research and increases the probability of participation in, and improved health outcomes for underserved or health disparity populations.

 

Objectives

  • Develop and contribute to studies that will help patients by discovering cures for disease
  • Gain experience in working with cutting-edge experimental techniques
  • Develop close mentoring relationships with published research faculty
  • Gain experience in writing scientific papers and grants
  • Receive exposure to a unique, exciting, and in-demand career path

 

Training Experience

Trainees will focus on research in the laboratories of their Primary Research Mentor and/or their co-mentors. The training experience will include literature evaluation, experimental design, learning of research techniques, data collection, troubleshooting methodology, data analysis, public presentation of research results, and manuscript publication. The trainees will work with their Primary Research Mentor to prepare both written and oral research proposals. Once the proposal is approved by faculty committees, the research can start.

The trainee will provide written and oral reports to their faculty committee every six months and after completion of the program, the trainee will continue to follow up every 6-12 months on such issues as continuing data analysis and project completion, including publication of results and future career plans.

Flexibility is key. Less experienced program participants may require a phased developmental period including skill-building followed by a period of supervised research. Candidates with more experience at the time of selection may need a shorter developmental period.

Trainees will receive a Training Requirement Checklist that will explain the timeline of the program and the date when each step must be completed.

Research Selection

The Primary Research Mentor is selected by the trainee from the list of Program Faculty. There are 20 Program Faculty in our Otolaryngology CSTP, including 16 PhD scientists and 4 clinician-scientists.

Our program offers a diverse portfolio of basic, translational, and clinical research. USC has particular strengths in research areas related to otolaryngology, including auditory/vestibular, cancer, tissue development and regeneration, and neuroimaging.

Every member of our Program Faculty has multiple research collaborations. Trainees in this program may choose to be involved in these collaborations.

Many of the most exciting projects require collaborators with significant differences in expertise, but which can be used synergistically to rapidly advance the field. In some cases, where the trainee works closely with the collaborator, the collaborator may be considered a co-mentor. This presents additional opportunities for learning. In fact, the ability of the trainees to access nearly any faculty member at USC as a co-mentor is one of the key benefits of our CSTP. Co-mentors must be approved by the Program Director and the Research Advisory Committee.

To identify research area of interest, please consult the faculty lab pages linked below:

Program Faculty

Name Primary Affiliation Research Area
Carolina Abdala, PhD
Scientist
Inner ear Human auditory development and otoacoustic emissions

Visit lab

Faculty page

Chris Shera, PhD
Scientist
Inner ear
Cochlear mechanics and otoacoustic emissions

Visit lab

Faculty page

James Dewey, PhD
Scientist
Inner ear
Cochlear mechanics and hearing loss

Visit lab

Faculty page

John Oghalai, MD
Clinician-Scientist
Inner ear Cochlear mechanics and noise-induced hearing loss

Visit lab

Faculty page

Karolina Charaziak, PhD
Scientist
Inner ear
Cochlear processing and sensory hearing loss

Visit lab

Faculty page

Radha Kalluri, PhD
Scientist
Inner ear Hair cell synapse and auditory/vestibular neuronal physiology

Visit lab

Faculty page

Alan Wayne, MD
Clinician-Scientist
Cancer Bench-to-bedside development of targeted, immune-based and cellular therapies for human disease

Faculty page

Dechen Lin, PhD
Scientist
Cancer
Cancer genomics and epigenetics

Visit lab

Faculty page

W. Martin Kast, PhD
Scientist
Cancer Human papilloma virus, its role in cancer pathogenesis, and design of therapeutic cancer vaccines

Visit lab

Faculty page

Berislav Zlokovic, PhD
Scientist
Central nervous system Blood-brain barrier in the pathogenesis of neurological disorders

Faculty page

Li Zhang, PhD
Scientist
Central nervous system Auditory cortex research to understand neuronal circuits that control animal behavior

Visit lab

Faculty page

Arthur Toga, PhD
Scientist
Central nervous system Neuroimaging, informatics, mapping brain structure and function, and brain atlasing for a variety of neurological and psychiatric disorders

Visit labs: LONI, INI

Faculty page

Laurie Eisenberg, PhD
Scientist
Cochlear implants Clinical trials with pediatric cochlear implants and auditory brainstem implants

Visit lab

Faculty page

Ray Goldsworthy, PhD
Scientist
Cochlear implants Sound processing with cochlear implants

Visit lab

Faculty page

Eric Kezirian, MD, MPH
Clinician-Scientist
Sleep Treatment of obstructive sleep apnea

Faculty page

Chanita Hughes-Halbert, PhD
Scientist
Health disparities
Health disparities and cancer equity

Faculty page

Ksenia Gnedeva, PhD
Scientist
Tissue development and regeneration Inner ear development and regeneration

Visit lab

Faculty page

Yang Chai, DDS, PhD
Clinician-Scientist
Tissue development and regeneration Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine therapies for dental, oral, and craniofacial tissue

Visit lab

Faculty page

Brian Applegate, PhD
Scientist
Translational engineering Translational research in optical engineering for head and neck imaging

Visit lab

Faculty page

Shrikanth Narayanan, PhD
Scientist
Translational engineering Human-centered signal processing and machine intelligence focused on speech and spoken language processing

Visit lab

Faculty page

 

Activities and Courses

  • Seminars (multiple per week)
  • Journal clubs (multiple per week)
  • Grand rounds (weekly)
  • Clinical didactics (weekly)
  • Study design course (once per trainee)

  • Responsible conduct of research (once per trainee)
  • Grant writing workshops (every 2-3 months)
  • Career development workshops (every 2-3 months)
  • Research retreats
  • Hearing and Communication Neuroscience retreat on Catalina Island (annually)

Financial Support

Medical student trainees in this program are supported by a paid stipend. The stipend amount is comparable to the NRSA pre-doctoral stipend. The majority of funding for the CSTP track for medical students is paid for by an R25 grant from the NIH-NIDCD with supplemental funds from the USC Caruso Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. The stipend may be subject to federal and state taxes.

CSTP trainees may be eligible to apply for the NIH Loan Repayment Program. Please consult the following webpage for more information: https://www.lrp.nih.gov/

 

Materials and Supplies

Medical students will receive supplementary research funds of up to $4,200 per year. These funds can be used for workshops outside of USC to learn skills required for the research project, supplies, travel to meetings, poster printing, etc.

 

Eligibility

The program is available to medical students who are enrolled in an LCME-accredited medical school at any point in their training. Applicants must be in good academic standing.

Additionally, the CSTP provides an excellent opportunity for those who are not immediately beginning their residency.

The CSTP is not able available to International Students. Stipend and tuition support for the CSTP can only be provided for U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

 

Application Process

Applicants are encouraged to communicate with specific program faculty prior to applying to the program in order to create a rank list of the top 1-3 program faculty that you would like to train with. Faculty emails are listed in the linked faculty pages in the program faculty grid. If you have any questions related to contacting program faculty or faculty research areas please contact the program administrator.

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis but applications submitted after the deadline of March 15 will be considered for the next academic year. Eligible applicants will be contacted via email for an interview with program faculty.

 

Application

If you are interested in applying for the USC Caruso Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery clinician-scientist training program for Medical Students, please email a single PDF of the following to Kristin Brokaw.

  1. CSTP Application
  2. Personal statement (no more than 1 page/double-spaced/1” margins) including:
    a. Rank list of the top 1-3 Program Faculty you would like to train with.
    b. Your long-term career goals as a clinician-scientist.
    c. What made you decide to pursue additional research training?
  3.  CV highlighting any research experience or publications
  4. Medical school transcript

 

 

 

Timeline

The CSTP year will customarily begin on July 1st of the year of acceptance and end June 30th but there is some flexibility to the start date.

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. Is this available to medical students outside of USC?

Yes, all students accepted to, or currently enrolled in an LCME-accredited medical school are encouraged to apply.

2. Are international students able to apply?

Unfortunately, the CSTP is not able to fund International Students. Stipend and tuition support for the CSTP can only be provided for U.S. citizens and permanent residents.


Questions?
Please email Program Administrator Kristin Brokaw.