As emphasized by the NIH Roadmap and NCATS's Strategic Priorities, NIH's broad mission to improve health outcomes for all persons depends on the ability to train and retain future generations of clinical scientists who can quickly and effectively translate research findings into clinical practice. However, the past two decades have witnessed a significant decline in the clinical scientist workforce, which threatens our nation's ability to leverage advances in basic biomedical and behavioral sciences into improvements in public health. The transition from postdoctoral student to independent researcher is a particularly high-risk period for attrition from the research career path. Early career researchers face a variety of challenges when beginning their career and many of the skills needed to successfully establish and maintain a research career are often not addressed during formal training experiences. The need for and value of building career navigation skills, such as planning, negotiation, and management, has been increasingly recognized. However, current attempts to fill this educational gap tend to be either generic, static written materials that are limited in their utility for a given researcher or in-person workshops that are available to only a limited number of select trainees. The primary goal of this SBIR Phase II project is to fully develop and pilot test a dynamic, interactive e-training software product (Strategy Shaper) that provides individualized training and practice in research career navigation skills. This Phase II proposal will expand on the promising feasibility test results of the Strategy Shaper prototype in Phase I. The proposed project will accomplish three specific aims: (1) fully develop Strategy Shaper software and responsive website with iterative usability testing with stakeholders;(2) conduct a 6-month pilot study of the product to assess its impact on researchers'career navigation skills, perceived confidence, research career motivation, and career activities;and (3) finalize Strategy Shaper for commercialization based on findings and evaluations from the pilot study. Phase II research is expected to demonstrate strong support for the promise of this interactive e-training software product for supporting the career development of clinical researchers.

Public Health Relevance

The increasing number of clinical scientists exiting the research career path over the past two decades threatens our nation's ability to quickly and effectively translate advances in biomedical and behavioral sciences into public healthcare improvements. NIH's success depends upon the ability to train and retain future generations of clinical and translational researchers. In response, NCATS's Strategic Priorities stress the need for innovative methods to enhance the training, advancement, and retention of clinical scientists. This Phase II project answers this call through full development and testing of Strategy Shaper, a dynamic, interactive e- training software product through which clinical scientists can practice and build career navigation skills needed to successfully transition to an independent research career. If successful, the resulting tool could significantly impact public health by broadly disseminating vital training and practice opportunities to foster retention of clinical scientists n the research career path.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase II (R44)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-HDM-Q (10))
Program Officer
Merchant, Carol
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
3-C Institute for Social Development
United States
Zip Code