August 4, 2011

Hartmann Named Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Scientist Development

 

by John Howser
Adding to her responsibilities as deputy director for the Institute for Medicine and Public Health, Katherine Hartmann, M.D., Ph.D., has been named associate dean for Clinical and Translational Scientist Development.

In this role, Hartmann is broadly responsible for fostering enterprise-wide research excellence as well as assuring protected time and mentoring for faculty who pursue active careers in research.

“It’s crucial to have leadership who understand the in-the-trenches experiences of those whom they serve,” said Robert Dittus, M.D., MPH, associate vice chancellor for Public Health & Health Care and senior associate dean for Population Health Sciences.

“Dr. Hartmann is a thriving researcher whose work spans the translational spectrum. She demands rigor of herself and others, knows what it takes to achieve in science and believes that when we can make the path smoother, more engaging, or more efficient, it is our role to help scientists stay focused on their science.”

Since 2001, Vanderbilt has seen a 217 percent increase in individual career development awards, also called K-awards, relative to the national trend of 66 percent growth. K-awards are a form of National Institutes of Health-funded support for individuals with a health professional doctorate degree.

“We’ve been able to sustain unparalleled growth and make major contributions to clinical and translational science because we value and support resources that develop the scientists who are essential to our mission,” said Gordon Bernard, M.D., associate vice chancellor for Research and senior associate dean for Clinical Sciences.

“Our researchers are thriving because we continue to resist complacency and are always working to develop the next generation’s approaches to the task of assuring our talented and driven researchers have what they need to establish entirely new lines of research and build robust collaborations.”

Vanderbilt has also increased internal career development support, along with institutionally administered K-awards, and comparable Veterans Administration and foundation programs.

These awards, which protect the majority of a faculty member’s time for building a strong research foundation, have been a special emphasis of the Office of Clinical Translational Scientist Development.

The program supporting Clinical Translational Scientist Development was founded in 1998 by Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., currently vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, who was recruited back to Vanderbilt from John’s Hopkins to be the first associate dean for Physician Scientist Development.

The Office of Clinical and Translational Scientist Development resulted from a strategic planning effort in 1997 led by Lee Limbird, Ph.D., former associate vice chancellor for Research, and Hal Moses, M.D., former director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

At that time, Vanderbilt had extensive research support in its basic science departments, but wished to expand NIH funding throughout clinical departments.

Over the past 15 years, physician-scientist development programs have expanded remarkably under associate deans Jason Morrow, M.D., who, prior to his death in 2008, oversaw the program while also serving as chief of Clinical Pharmacology, and Nancy Brown, M.D., who also served as chief of Clinical Pharmacology. Brown now serves as chair of the Department of Medicine.

“This program holds special meaning for me,” Balser said. Dr. Hartmann is an exceptional choice because she embraces the cultural elements that have made physician scientist mentoring at Vanderbilt so successful. She builds new programs through establishing new and meaningful connections among our faculty. I anticipate great things resulting from Kathie’s creative energy and focus on the careers of our scientists.”

Today, the Office of Clinical and Translational Scientist Development serves more than 346 trainees and faculty in formal career development programs with resources like the career development seminar series, the Elliot Newman Society, internal grant review, and a library of funded grants.

Hartmann aims to extend the reach of the office as its new associate dean.

“Vanderbilt is fortunate to have an institutional culture valuing scholarship and mentorship while remaining entrepreneurial and agile. We’re a natural to build innovative new ways to support careers.

“We have the luxury of expanding our goals to encompass the full career trajectory of our clinical and translational scientists, from students to tenured professors,” said Hartmann.

“The office will be taking on several new tasks, such as enhancing ability for Ph.D. postdoctoral fellows to bridge into clinical research environments, coordinating new manuscript writing resources, expanding the grants library and creating a registry of faculty who have served on NIH study sections.”

New programs will include:

• Conversations: an in-person and virtual forum for discussions of books and ideas about career paths, the practice of science and mentoring among researchers.

• The Edge: a “one stop” Web portal to consolidate the many VUMC research career development resources and to establish a vehicle for rapid access to current articles, external Web links, message boards and real-time discussion about careers in science.

• Connect: an initiative to promote submission of K24 mid-career mentoring awards, to provide crucial news and information to mentors, and to provide tools to ease administrative tasks in formal mentoring roles.

Hartmann is the Lucius E. Burch Professor of Reproductive Physiology and Family Planning.