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CTSI’s new mentor program helps develop effective mentoring relationships

Sarah Cusick, left, and her mentor, Chandy John, right, discuss her research on Malaria and the use of iron supplements.

Breaking into any field can be difficult. Whether you’re a student or professional, mentors can play a pivotal role in an individual’s career development. To address the growing need for mentors, the University of Minnesota Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) has developed a free, online, professional development course designed to prepare faculty in higher education to be effective research mentors for junior faculty, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students.

The course, “Optimizing the Practice of Mentoring,” is designed to give research mentors the skills and tools necessary to form effective mentoring relationships.

“In today’s extremely competitive global environment, mentoring is more critical than ever before,” said Jas Ahluwalia, M.D., M.P.H., director of CTSI research training, education and career development. “The most effective mentors are wonderful advocates and help create opportunities to connect with others.”

As CTSI’s Mentor of the Year, Betsy Seaquist, M.D., professor, Department of Medicine, knows firsthand the impact mentoring can have on a mentee’s career. Seaquist has mentored many faculty members over the years but points to two recent examples:

  1. Amir Moheet, M.D., assistant professor of medicine, began his endocrinology fellowship and spent two years in Seaquist’s lab to study hypoglycemia and how it affects brain function.  Moheet applied for the KL2 Scholars Program, designed to develop CTS research careers with extramural funding and scholarly publications. With Seaquist’s mentorship, Moheet was one of ten who received financial support to continue his research and ultimately have a chance to be successful and make a difference in his chosen field.
  2. Silvia Mangia, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Radiology, earned her undergraduate degree in physics and her Ph.D. in biophysics. With no previous background in diabetes or clinical medicine, Seaquist helped Mangia utilize her talents and curiosity to study the effects of diabetes on the brain. Mangia also applied for and was selected for the KL2 Scholars Program, and in collaboration with the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR), is researching additional evaluators to treat diabetes.

“One of the many great things about working at the University of Minnesota and serving as a mentor is the collaboration that goes on between and beyond these walls,” said Seaquist. “I strongly believe that we must use all of our talents and skills to do everything we can to improve everyone’s quality of life.”

The curriculum was developed by faculty members from across the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center with leadership from Drs. Anne Marie Weber-Main, Esam El-Fakahany, and Janet Shanedling. To learn more about becoming a mentor, please email ctsieduc@umn.edu or register to begin the course.

CTSI also provides access to mentors through career development programs for junior investigators building independent research careers. The institute is currently accepting applications for three programs with eligibility ranging from assistant professor rank (≤ 4 years) to associate professor rank (≤ 7 years). Application deadline is Dec. 10. Visit the CTSI website for detailed eligibility criteria and application information.

The CTSI mentor application can be found here.

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