As with any profession, discoveries through research will only advance if new researchers continue the work that is currently being done, and Lorne Hofseth, associate dean of research for the College of Pharmacy, is doing his part to train the next group of pharmaceutical science investigators.
“The gold standard for any researcher is to be awarded an R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health,” Hofseth says. “The purpose of our R21 Boot Camp is to facilitate ideas to discovery through generating funding for our faculty. The grant mechanisms can be intimidating, so the R21 boot camp helps our faculty overcome this intimidation with the goal of generating funding to carry out their research activities.”
The R01 grant program provides support for health-related research and development based on the mission of the NIH. The R21 grant is intended to encourage exploratory/developmental research by providing support for the early and conceptual stages of project development.
Hofseth’s boot camp, which recently wrapped up its initial class, will take place every other year. It brings together professional track faculty, who have expertise in clinical activities and understanding of clinical practice and translational sciences, with tenured track faculty, who have expertise in drugs, the targets of those drugs and the mechanism of those drugs.
“It makes sense to foster collaborative efforts between these groups such that the teams created are uniquely suited to answer important questions,” he says.
Through our boot camp, we can inspire research and maximize the potential of our faculty’s scientific expertise ... The end goal is to support the research that will ultimately lead to new discoveries.
Chao Cai, ’13, who earned a Ph.D. in biostatistics from the USC College of Pharmacy, and Minou Khazan are assistant professors in the Clinical Pharmacy and Outcomes Sciences department. They teamed up for a study focused on predicting cardiac events in critical care patients who are receiving certain medications.
"We needed more funding to use electronic health records and to have access to more information in order to create a risk assessment tool,” says Khazan. “We wanted to learn how to submit an R21 grant application, and the boot camp gave us the opportunity to learn about all the requirements step by step.”
Francisco Leon, assistant professor in Drug Discovery and Biomedical Sciences, also wanted to grow his experience in the NIH grant submission process.
“By sharing our ideas with others and receiving their feedback, it helps to grow the confidence of junior faculty members like me,” he says.
Federal grants, particularly those from the NIH, provide critical support for academic research programs like those at the College of Pharmacy.
“Through our boot camp, we can inspire research and maximize the potential of our faculty’s scientific expertise,” Hofseth adds. “The end goal in receiving a grant is to support the research that will ultimately lead to new discoveries.”