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Clinician-Scientist Faculty Mentoring (FaMe) Program

The Clinician-Scientist Faculty Mentoring (FaMe) Program at Penn State College of Medicine is designed to prepare, mentor and build community among physicians and other clinical health providers working to advance medical knowledge through clinical, translational or basic research.

The two-year program includes weekly protected time for research training, alternating between a lecture one week and scholarly advancement time the following week. Lectures include grant-writing workshops, emerging technology seminars, career development seminars and presentations by trainees.

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How the FaMe Program is Structured

Grant-Writing Lectures Expand answer


Two-hour Grant-Writing Lectures are provided in collaboration with the College of Medicine’s Grants Academy.

In general, four sessions are held over the course of the program, for a total of approximately eight hours of lecture over the two-year program.

Part 1: Learning the system

This section includes information on:

  • Study section/audience
  • Which NIH institute?
  • NI vs. ESI status
  • When to submit – preliminary data
  • NIH vs. national foundation grants
  • R21 vs. R01 vs. K08/K23
  • MPI grants
  • P01 grants
  • SBIR/STTR grants
  • Overview of NIH review process

Part 2: Proposal development

  • Specific aims page
  • Overall impact
  • Basic science vs. translational vs. combined
  • Background and significance
  • Rationale/scientific premise
  • Innovation (novel mechanism; novel animal model; novel drug)

Part 3: Experimental plan development

  • Experimental plan – “minefield”
  • Types of plans – fishing expedition; inverted pyramid; forced march/house of cards; round wagon
  • Pitfalls: Exploratory approach
  • Pitfalls: Descriptive approach
  • Pitfalls: Overambitious proposal (How many aims? How many subaims?)
  • Preliminary data; established in in vivo model; established feasibility of experiments (objective and subjective – can the participant do these experiments?)
  • Functional/mechanistic approach; gain-of-function; loss-of-function; mapping interactive area(s); mutational analysis; hypothesis-driven experimental approach
  • In vitro vs. in vivo experiments
  • Cell lines vs. primary cells
  • Animal models: GEM vs. PDX
  • Collaborators – how to choose; purpose of collaborators

Part 4: Proposal writing

In this stage, participants will write and discuss the actual proposal based on their preliminary data (even if insufficient). That proposal is to be presented, discussed and revised, and suggestions how to improve the proposal will be provided.

Clinician-Scientist Career Development Seminars Expand answer


Two-hour Clinician-Scientist Career Development Seminars are presented by the FaMe team and guest speakers.

In general, five seminars are anticipated each year, for a total of 10 presentations and 20 hours over the two-year program.

Presentations by the FaMe team

  • Planning the clinician-scientist career
  • Promotion to associate professor and tenure: Publication
  • Promotion to associate professor and tenure: Educational/teaching excellence
  • Promotion to associate professor and tenure: Administrative/service excellence
  • Skills development: Critical reading of manuscripts and analysis of data
  • Conferences and presentations

Presentations by guest speakers

  • Research collaboration with industry
  • Negotiation skills
  • Ethics in research for clinician-scientists
  • Diversity in the clinician-scientist pool
Clinician-Scientist Seminars Expand answer


One-hour Clinician-Scientist Seminars are presented by trainees.

In general, 10 such seminars are anticipated each year, for a total of 20 presentations and 20 hours over the two-year program.

Presentation structure

In these events, clinician-scientists will:

  • Present their research (20 minutes)
  • Discuss research problems and plans (20 minutes)
  • Outline plans for grant submission (20 minutes)
Emerging Technology Seminars Expand answer


Two-hour Emerging Technology Seminars are presented by the FaMe team and guest speakers.

In general, five seminars are anticipated each year, for a total of 10 presentations and 20 hours over the two-year program.

Presentation topics

These seminars are designed to educate clinician-scientists about emerging technologies and to acquaint them with intellectual and logistic resources to use these technologies at Penn State. Each session will combine a one-hour technology review and a one-hour presentation of a project using the technology.

  • shRNA and CRISPR library
  • PDX and other animal models for research
  • Drug development/pharmacokinetics
  • Next-generation sequencing
  • Epigenetics
  • Bioinformatics and biostatistics
  • Proteomics/metabolomics
  • MicroRNA and RNA-binding proteins
  • Microbiome
  • Imaging (MicroCT, bioluminescence, etc.)

For Details

For details on the Clinician-Scientist Faculty Mentoring (FaMe) Program, contact Dr. Sinisa Dovat, program director, at