The USC Otolaryngology Clinician-Scientist Training Program (CSTP)
Our CSTP is a research residency track, which accepts one residency candidate per year and is funded by an R25 grant from the NIH-NIDCD with supplemental funds from the USC Caruso Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.
The program has a separate match number so that medical students interested in otolaryngology residency training at USC can choose to apply to the clinical track, the CSTP track, or both.
Rationale for the Program
Clinician-scientists are uniquely positioned to address many challenges at the forefront of medicine today given their ability to understand disease pathophysiology from both the clinical and scientific perspectives. As clinicians, they have access to unique patient cohorts, tissue samples, and procedural data. As scientists, they understand the capabilities of the latest scientific methodologies and experimental approaches. Clinical-translational approaches are in particular need because while basic science discoveries continue to expand our understanding of human biology, this new knowledge leads to substantive health benefits at a very slow pace. Particularly in otolaryngology, many current therapies for human disease are based upon empirical concepts, rather than upon a scientific understanding of disease pathophysiology. Thus, there is strong need for clinician-scientists to be doing impactful research and speed up the process of going from bench-to-bedside.
However, due to constraints on time, opportunity, and support, the number of academic clinicians actively engaged in meaningful research is very low. In addition, women and individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups represent a particularly low proportion of this workforce. These issues are particularly obvious in the field of otolaryngology, where it is rare for a clinical faculty member to hold NIH funding and faculty from underrepresented backgrounds are less common than in other specialties.
The University of Southern California (USC) Caruso Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery is committed to training future generations of clinician-scientists and increasing the numbers 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.
Goals for trainees in our Otolaryngology CSTP
- Learn the scientific method and cutting-edge experimental techniques
- Built a track record of high-impact publications
- Develop close mentoring relationships to foster your career
- Become ingrained with the philosophy that research is intrinsic to an academic surgeon’s career
- Learn how to sustain excellence in both research and clinical care
- Ultimately, to be capable of leading their own research team by the time they become academic faculty. This means that trainees are prepared to become independent NIH-funded investigators working to improve human health through scientific discovery that is translated to clinical care.
Residents on the clinical track currently get three months of research in their PGY4 year. Residents on the CSTP track will have a two-year research block during their first two years of residency training, with additional research time throughout the following five years of clinical training. For details on the five years of clinical training for both the CSTP track and clinical track, please Explore Now.
This timeline is different than the traditional resident two-year research blocks that typically start after the PGY1 or PGY2 year. We did this purposely because we hope to teach these young resident trainees how to succeed at research and clinical activity simultaneously, before the intensive nature of the intern year changes the mindset of the trainee. We can do this because the R25 grant mechanism permits 20% clinical activity during the two-year research block. Thus, one day per week is spent on clinical training (clinics and operating room) and four days per week are spent in the research lab.
When trainees begin more intensive clinical training in the PGY3 year, they will still maintain a reduced level of research activity for completing data analysis, writing papers and attending research seminars/lab meetings (5% time). There will also be repeated mentoring sessions on a regular schedule. There is an additional three-month full-time research block during the PGY6 year that will ensure completion of data analysis and manuscript submission. This also will let them perform more experiments to collect preliminary data and begin preparing for their K08/K23 proposal.
|Year||Otolaryngology CSTP Track||Clinical Track|
|RY1||Research (80%); Clinical (20%)|
|RY2||Research (80%); Clinical (20%)|
|PGY1||Clinical (100%)*||Clinical (100%)*|
|PGY2||Clinical (100%)*||Clinical (100%)*|
|PGY3||Clinical (100%)*||Clinical (100%)*|
|PGY4||Clinical (75%); Research (25%)||Clinical (75%); Research (25%)|
|PGY5||Clinical (100%)*||Clinical (100%)*|
*with continuous research activities
- 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)
- Faculty research retreat (annually)
- Resident research retreat (annually)
- Resident wellness retreat (annually)
- Hearing and Communication Neuroscience retreat on Catalina Island (annually)
CSTP residents will have multiple mentors at different levels. For their research training, they will have a primary research mentor, an individual research committee, and a grantsmanship mentor. For their clinical training, they will have an individual clinician-scientist mentor, a transition to academic faculty committee, and the wellness committee.
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 goal in selecting Program Faculty members was to offer a diverse portfolio of research including basic, translational, and clinical realms, and to cover research areas related to otolaryngology where USC has strengths 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. Indeed, many of the best and most exciting projects require collaborators with significant differences in expertise, but which can be used synergistically to advance the field in a leap-frog step. In some cases, where the trainee works closely with the collaborator, the collaborator may be considered a co-mentor. This is beneficial because of the additional opportunities for learning it offers. 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. Thus, the research possibilities for our trainees cover the gamut of otolaryngology. Co-mentors must be approved by the Program Director and the Research Advisory Committee.
|Name||Research Area||Research Area|
|Carolina Abdala, PhD
|Inner ear||Human auditory development and otoacoustic emissions|
|Chris Shera, PhD
||Cochlear mechanics and otoacoustic emissions|
|James Dewey, PhD
||Cochlear mechanics and hearing loss|
|John Oghalai, MD
|Inner ear||Cochlear mechanics and noise-induced hearing loss|
|Karolina Charaziak, PhD
||Cochlear processing and sensory hearing loss|
|Radha Kalluri, PhD
|Inner ear||Hair cell synapse and auditory/vestibular neuronal physiology|
|Alan Wayne, MD
|Cancer||Bench-to-bedside development of targeted, immune-based and cellular therapies for human disease|
|Dechen Lin, PhD
||Cancer genomics and epigenetics|
|W. Martin Kast, PhD
|Cancer||Human papilloma virus, its role in cancer pathogenesis, and design of therapeutic cancer vaccines|
|Berislav Zlokovic, PhD
|Central nervous system||Blood-brain barrier in the pathogenesis of neurological disorders|
|Li Zhang, PhD
|Central nervous system||Auditory cortex research to understand neuronal circuits that control animal behavior|
|Arthur Toga, PhD
|Central nervous system||Neuroimaging, informatics, mapping brain structure and function, and brain atlasing for a variety of neurological and psychiatric disorders|
|Laurie Eisenberg, PhD
|Cochlear implants||Clinical trials with pediatric cochlear implants and auditory brainstem implants|
|Ray Goldsworthy, PhD
|Cochlear implants||Sound processing with cochlear implants|
|Chanita Hughes-Halbert, PhD
||Health disparities and cancer equity|
|Ksenia Gnedeva, PhD
|Tissue development and regeneration||Inner ear development and regeneration|
|Yang Chai, DDS, PhD
|Tissue development and regeneration||Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine therapies for dental, oral, and craniofacial tissue|
|Brian Applegate, PhD
|Translational engineering||Translational research in optical engineering for head and neck imaging|
|Shrikanth Narayanan, PhD
|Translational engineering||Human-centered signal processing and machine intelligence focused on speech and spoken language processing|
All prospective applicants wishing to apply to our program must apply through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS). Applicants must also register with the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP).
Our requirements for application include:
· Common application form
· Personal statement
· Medical school transcript
· MSPE/ Dean’s Letter
· Letters of recommendation (minimum of 3)
· USMLE transcript
· ECFMG status report – foreign graduates only
Additionally, interested applicants are encouraged to please submit a Research Statement to CSTP_OHNS@med.usc.edu.
One-page or less on:
- Your long-term career goals as a clinician-scientist.
- What made you decide to pursue additional research training?
- What labs are you interested in?
Questions? Please email CSTP_OHNS@med.usc.edu.
CSTP Residency Benefits and Salary
For the first two research years of the CSTP Residency, salary is consistent with the postgraduate year (PGY) salary structure and funded by an R25 grant and the Keck School of Medicine of USC. After the first two research years, the salary will align with Los Angeles General Medical Center PGY1-5 scale, depending on the current year of board-approved clinical training.
During the research years, the resident may request up to $20,000 per year in supplementary research funds for registration for short-term research courses or workshops, research supplies, or technical support, and up to $3000 per year to present research findings at domestic scientific conferences and NIH-sponsored workshops.
Residents are provided three meals per day without charge at the Keck Medical Center.
Residents are provided free parking in a parking lots adjacent to the Keck Medical Center.
For the first two research years of the CSTP Residency, salary is consistent with the postgraduate year (PGY) salary structure and funded by an R25 grant and the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
After the first two research years, the salary will align with Los Angeles General Medical Center PGY1-5 scale, depending on the current year of board-approved clinical training.
Residency Benefits and Salary during the 5-year Clinical Portion
Click here for salary and benefits information for the 5-year Clinical Portion of the Residency.
For comprehensive details of GME policies, please visit the Los Angeles General Medical Center GME website.