Duke R38 Research Pathway Frequently Asked Questions

Who should consider this pathway? 
The R38 pathway is designed for research-oriented residents who want to spend a significant portion of their residency time conducting research and are dedicated to a research-focused career pathway in academic medicine. 

What type of research can be supported?
Residents interested in and committed to a career in either clinical or basic research are eligible. Regardless of the type of research all candidates need to have an identified mentor and developed research plan.

How long is the time commitment?
18 months of dedicated research time are included in the 48 month program, during which time you will still be considered a resident. Your only clinical responsibility during this time will be a half-day continuity clinic each week. The 18 months of research time would begin at the start of the JAR year, contain flexible blocks of 80 percent protected research time totaling 18 months, and upon completion of research, you would finish as a SAR with a final 6 month block of clinical rotations included in the 18 months of clinical training during the last 3 years of residency. This extends the overall time in residency by one year (12 months Internship + 18 months research + 18 months clinical training).

Has the ABIM approved this pathway?

How does the R38 differ from the  ABIM short-track clinical investigator pathway?
The clinical investigator pathway (CIP) is an ABIM-approved pathway consisting of two years of clinical Internal Medicine residency, followed by a clinical year of subspecialty fellowship to enable more dedicated research time as a fellow (one additional year). Typically, short track candidates have MD, PhD degrees or MD degrees with substantial prior research experience and productivity. The R38 pathway may be most useful for candidates who want to engage in research earlier in their training and build additional skills before fellowship research. The R38 pathway is also open to both MD, PhD and MD only candidates.

Will my salary change if I’m doing research instead of clinical training? 
No, salary is based only on PGY, not on whether your time is spent in the clinic or on research. Everyone in the same PGY will receive the same salary, no matter which training pathway one pursues.

Will doing a research-intensive pathway increase time to securing a faculty position? 
Not necessarily. The time to securing a faculty position is generally 6-7 years from the start of internship. There are differences in how time is spent during residency and fellowship between the two pathways. 

What are the differences in how time is spent in residency, research and fellowship on each of the pathways? 
The R38 requires 4 years of Internal Medicine residency (including 18 months of research) plus 3 or 4 years of fellowship depending on the subspecialty. The ABIM clinical investigator short-track pathway requires 2 years of residency (internal medicine training) and 4 or 5 years fellowship depending on the subspecialty (with three years of research during the fellowship, instead of the typical 2 years).

What are the most important differences between the two pathways? 
The ABIM clinical investigator short-track pathway is combined with your fellowship and divisional training grants are often used to support the research time. The R38 is a School of Medicine training grant awarded to Duke by the NIH that not only supports your research but will also provide a gateway to internal funding to support time for a technician, stats support, and travel to scientific meetings.

Are there any other advantages to the Duke Medicine NIH R38 SCI-StARR R38 pathway? 
Yes, NIH has announced that they will launch a new K38 program to support research during fellowship, and this new funding opportunity will only be open to trainees who have been appointed to an R38 grant. Appointment to the R38 will likely increase your chances of obtaining your own NIH funding in future.

How do I apply for the R38?
Please contact program staff by late summer/early fall for initial discussions. This is not required, but is generally helpful for applicants. Applicants must have a confirmed research mentor prior to application. The formal RFA will be available in late October and the application deadline will be in late fall. 

Who do I contact if I still have questions? 
For residency questions:  Aimee Zaas, MD, MHS, Director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program. 

For R38 Research Pathway questions: Scott Palmer, MD, Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Medicine, and Maria Price Rapoza, PhD, Executive Director for the Cardiovascular Research Center, may also be contacted.

Questions about the RFA should be referred to Maria Price Rapoza.