Atlanta Pediatric Scholars Program (K12 Program)

The call for applications is currently closed. The next call will likely be released ~late summer/early fall of 2021, but slots may open up sooner so check back for updates.

The Atlanta Pediatric Scholars Program is sponsored by the NICHD Child Health Research Career Development Award Program.


The Atlanta Pediatric Scholars Program, (K12HD072245; PI, Lucky Jain, MD), is funded by The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and is administered and supported by Emory University Department of Pediatrics and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. This program is a mentored institutional career development program for senior fellows and junior faculty who have recently completed postgraduate clinical training in Pediatrics, and are committed to launching an independent research career. This program provides a dedicated 2 year period of career development that includes didactic coursework, mentored research training and 75% protected research time towards the pursuit of independent extramural research funding.

Application requirements and guidelines are the same as those for an NIH K08 application. Applicants must contact the Research Operations Director, Stacy Heilman, PhD, prior to submission to confirm eligibility and seek advice on candidacy.

Materials from the August 4, 2020 Pediatric Research and Career Development Symposium where we showcased the local clinical, basic and translational research conducted by our fellows and junior faculty.

Post Survey Link 

Recording of Morning Session

Recording of Key Note Presentation and Afternoon Session


Program/Detailed Agenda

Abstract Book

Clinical Posters and Zoom Room Links (11:20 am to 12:20 pm)

Basic Science Posters and Zoom Room Links (3:15 pm to 4:00 pm)

Directory of Participants

Oral and Poster Award Winners

Agenda Overview:

9 am to 12:30 pm— Clinical Research Poster & Oral Presentations

12:30 pm to 1:30 pm—Key Note Speaker- Ann Chahroudi, MD, PhD, Director, Center for Childhood Infections & Vaccines, Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist, Emory Healthcare, Associate Professor, Infectious Disease, Department of Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine

"My path as a pediatric physician scientist: the tortoise and the hare"

1:30 pm to 4:15 pm —  Basic Science Research Poster &  Oral Presentations

Sponsored by the NICHD supported Atlanta Pediatric Scholars Program, K12HD072245

This program supports research career development for pediatricians who are commencing basic science research relevant to the field of pediatrics. Please note that projects proposing patient-oriented research are not eligible for this opportunity.

Examples of responsive projects are listed below. This list is not meant to be inclusive, but rather provides some general examples of the types of scope that are appropriate for this program.

  • Laboratory-based projects to understand the basic mechanisms of diseases affecting children
  • Basic investigation into novel therapies or diagnostics at the bench or in animal models
  • Laboratory-based investigation into genetic and epigenetic origins of childhood diseases

Projects in the following areas are not responsive to this particular funding opportunity:

  • Clinical trials of any kind, including those performing laboratory assays from patient samples
  • Descriptive projects linked to human specimens that lack a basic, mechanistic focus
  • Outcomes research, epidemiologic studies

At the time of award, Atlanta Pediatric Scholars must:

  • Devote a minimum effort of 9 person-months (75% effort) to research during the appointment of the K12 award
  • Be a citizen or a non-citizen national of the United States or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence
  • Be a pediatrician holding an MD or DO degree
  • Have completed postgraduate residency training in pediatrics; completion of subspecialty training is not required as scholars may be considered for appointment to the K12 program in the final research year of subspecialty fellowship training, provided the fellowship provides basic science training within the scope of this K12 program
  • Be no more than 4 years after attaining board eligibility in their subspecialty
  • Identify an approved mentor or mentors with extensive research experience and extramural funding to help support the scholar’s research
  • Hold “New Investigator” status and not be or have been a PI on an R01, R29, U01/U10, subproject of a Program Project (P01), Center (P50, P60, U54) grant, or individual mentored or non-mentored career development award (e.g., K01, K02, K08, K22, K23, K24, K25, K99). Individuals who are or were PIs on NIH Small Grants (i.e., R03s) or Exploratory/Developmental Grants (i.e., R21s) may be eligible providing they meet the other eligibility requirements. Individuals who received Pediatric Scientist Development Program (PSDP) K12 funds are eligible for this program, subject to the 6-year limitation on mentored K support described below.
  • Combined support through the K12 and other NICHD mentored career development award programs must not exceed six years
  • During the period of this award, Scholars may not accept or hold any other PHS award that duplicates the provisions of this career award. However, Scholars may compete for individual mentored career development awards (e.g., K01, K08, K23, K25, K99) provided they meet the eligibility requirements of those programs. Scholars may not hold concurrent K awards.
  • Have written approval and support from their Division Chief for release from clinical time thus demonstrating capacity to spend 75% effort on the activities of this award

Prospective applicants must contact Stacy Heilman, PhD, prior to submission to confirm eligibility and ensure competitiveness.  

The guidelines for the K12 Atlanta Pediatric Scholars Program Grant application are:

1) Eligible Topics: Applicants may pose research questions and projects focused on laboratory based, basic science projects in areas related to child health. See the “Research Topics Supported” section above and the "K12 Scholars" tab below for more details and relevant examples.

2) PI Effort: Applicants must dedicate 75% of their professional effort towards research activities associated with this award during the time of the award. 

3) Budget: 

  • Total budget not to exceed $125,000 annually 
    • $100,000 allocated to salary and fringe to support the Scholar’s 75% dedicated research effort 
    • $25,000 to support research expenses
  • Must use the required budget template

4) Duration: 

  • Funding will be for a one year period with a possible extension to a second year. Extension to a second year is contingent on the demonstration of satisfactory progress as assessed by the  K12 Executive Committee.
  • An annual progress report will be required 2 months prior to each budget year end date. 

5) Mentor(s): 

  • Candidates must name a primary sponsor/mentor, who together with the candidate is responsible for the planning, direction, and execution of the program. 
  • The mentor should be recognized as an accomplished investigator in the proposed area of research and have a track record of success in extramural funding and in training similar investigators. 
  • There should be evidence that the mentor has an interest and commitment towards the scholar. Examples include but are not limited to shared space arrangements, previous monetary support & co-authored publications.
  • A co-mentor and other collaborators can be named, but are not mandatory.

6) Plans for Extramural Funding: K12 Scholars are encouraged and expected to apply for independent research grant support during the period of K12 support (e.g., K08, R01). Funding goals should be outlined in the application including timing of and type of NIH or equivalent independent support that will be sought. This can either be a resubmission of a previously reviewed but unfunded application or a new application. 

7) Institutional Support: The Division Director or Departmental chairman of each applicant for this K12 grant will be specifically involved in approving the K12 grant application, confirming 75% research time for the applicant, and ensuring that the extramural grant application is submitted as proposed in the K12 grant application. 

8) Deadline:

  • Deadlines for applications for the Atlanta Pediatric Scholars Program are established periodically. The call for applications is currently closed. The next call will likely be released ~late summer/early fall of 2021, but slots may open up sooner so check back for updates.
  • Prospective applicants must contact Stacy Heilman, PhD, prior to submission to confirm eligibility and ensure competitiveness.  


  • Does the candidate have the potential to develop as an independent and productive researcher?
  • Is the candidate’s academic, clinical, and research record of high quality?
  • Is there evidence of the candidate’s commitment to meeting the program objectives to become an independent investigator in research?

Career Development Plan/Career Goals & Objectives:

  • What is the likelihood that the plan will contribute substantially to the scientific development of the candidate leading to scientific independence?
  • Are the content and scope of the career development plan appropriate when considered in the context of prior training/research experience and the stated didactic and research objectives for achieving research independence?

Research Plan:

  • Are the proposed research question, design, and methodology of significant scientific and technical merit?
  • Is the research plan relevant to the candidate’s research career objectives?
  • Is the plan for developing/enhancing the candidate’s research skills appropriate and adequate?

Mentor Team:

  • Are the qualifications of the mentor(s) in the area of the proposed research appropriate?
  • Does the mentor(s) adequately address the above review criteria including the candidate’s potential and his/her strengths and areas needing improvement?
  • Is there adequate description of the quality and extent of the mentor’s proposed role in providing guidance and advice to the candidate?
  • Is there evidence of the mentor’s, consultant’s, collaborator’s previous experience in fostering the development of independent investigators?
  • Is there evidence of previous research productivity and peer-reviewed support?
  • Is active/pending support for the proposed research project appropriate and adequate?
  • Is the mentor’s description of the elements of the research career development activities, including formal course work adequate?

1) A Cover Page/Letter with the title of the application, the applicant’s name, department and division, address, and the name and application date of the extramural agency to which the extramural application will be submitted. This letter must be signed by the applicant, the applicant’s mentor(s) and the applicant’s division director indicating institutional support for the application and acceptance of the terms of the grant, including confirmation that 75% effort will be dedicated to research.

2) Biosketches (5 pages maximum each) – from the PI and mentor(s) following the current NIH format

3) Other Support – Required from the proposed mentor(s). Please note, as described above, the mentor must have sufficient research funding in order for the application to be competitive for this program.

4) Budget and Budget Justification

  • Total budget not to exceed $125,000 for 1 year of support broken down into the following 2 categories:
    • $100,000 allocated to support the Scholar’s 75% effort as budgeted towards salary and fringe benefit costs; salary and fringe exceeding this amount must be cost shared from internal funding sources
    • ​$25,000 to support the individual research and career development activities of the Scholar
  • Must use the required budget template

Other budgetary notes:

  • Allowable research expenses from the $25,000 allotment may include:

    • Research expenses such as supplies, equipment and technical personnel, including expenses generated in the laboratories of the established investigators who serve as mentors

    • Travel to attend the annual Scholar's meeting

    • Travel to receive training or attend scientific meetings

    • Tuition, fees, or books

    • Technical support for data analysis and statistical or computer services. 

    • Items that may NOT be supported within the $25,000 support category include: mentor salary support, direct support of the laboratories, travel, and research projects of the investigators serving as mentors beyond those expenses directly attributable to the scholar's project

  • The budget justification should state that the proposed mentor has sufficient independent support to cover the costs of the proposed project in excess of the allowable budget of this award.
  • Proposals do not need to be routed for institutional signoff, but candidates should work with their RAS Pre-Award contacts for assistance in creating this budget.

5) Other Supporting Documentation:

  • Project Abstract (limit 1 page)
  • Project Narrative (2-3 sentences)
  • Facilities and Other Resources and Equipment Section (no page limit)

6) Specific Aims of the Proposed Research (limit 1 page)

7) A Candidate Information Section describing the Candidate’s background, career goals and objectives, career development/training activities during the award period and the training in responsible conduct in research. (recommend 4 pages maximum)*

8) The Research Strategy including Significance, Innovation and Approach of the proposed research (recommend 8 pages maximum) including preliminary data. References should be included at the end of this section, but are not included in the page limitation.*

*NOTE: The Candidate Information Section and the Research Strategy section together must not exceed 12 pages (white space at the end of each section is not counted). If the text exceeds 12 pages for these two sections, your application will be returned without review.

9) Statement(s) by the mentor/co-mentor and any other key contributors important to the scholar's research career success (limit 6 pages)

10) Vertebrate Animals Section (if applicable) - The Vertebrate Animals Section is a standalone document and must include enough procedural details for evaluation even if these details are included elsewhere in the grant application, publications, IACUC protocol, or institutional SOPs/guidelines. The details should include:

  • A general experimental timeline for animals from start until euthanasia.
  • For ALL procedures on a live animal: frequency and duration of procedures, identification of and routes of administration of substances, experimental endpoints, and monitoring parameters and monitoring frequency.
  • Examples of the types of procedures that may be described include:
    • Behavioral tests
    • Blood collection
    • Surgical procedures
    • Administration of substances
    • Tumor induction
    • Post-irradiation procedures

11) Response to Prior Reviews - If the research project has previously been submitted for consideration to an institutional K mechanism (including this K12 opportunity) or for extramural funding, the applicant should include a copy of the critique from the prior submission and within a 1 page limit, indicate how the criticisms will be addressed by the new work funded by this K12 grant submission.

12) Submission must be completed by the stated deadline via the online application form. Deadlines for applications for the Atlanta Pediatric Scholars Program are established periodically; The call for applications is currently closed. The next call will likely be released ~late summer/early fall of 2021, but slots may open up sooner so check back for updates.

These sections are to be fashioned after the NIH K application requirements and must adhere to all formatting requirements. Detailed instructions can be found within the SF 424 application guide under the supplemental instructions for CDA’s found at this link: 

Programmatic & Eligibility Questions:
Clint Joiner, MD, PhD
Training Director

WIlbur Lam, MD, PhD
Recruitment Officer

Stacy Heilman, PhD
Research Operations Director

Why is this program limited to pediatric faculty embarking on basic science careers? Why are clinical researchers not supported by this program?

The NICHD-funded Child Health Research Career Development (K12) Awards are specifically designed to prepare pediatricians for careers in basic science investigation relevant to childhood illnesses. While clinical research careers are equally valued by our leadership and institutions, this particular K12 program is not designed to support clinical research careers. Below are specific citations from the RFA that provide evidence of this focus:

Stated Purpose
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) supports a program of Child Health Research Career Development Awards (CHRCDA) intended to develop resources to speed the transfer of knowledge gained through studies in basic science to clinical applications that will benefit the health of children. The CHRCDA supports research career development of pediatricians who have recently completed subspecialty training and who are commencing basic research training relevant to child health. The goal of this initiative is to advance research in child health and to support educational institutions in their ability to stimulate novel research initiatives and career development experiences for junior investigators. This is accomplished by increasing the number and effectiveness of established pediatric investigators who have a grounding in basic science and research skills that can be applied to the health problems of children, as well as by increasing the number of pediatric medical centers that can stimulate and facilitate the application of research findings to pressing pediatric problems.

APSP Specific Aims: The Specific Aims of the Atlanta Pediatric Scholars Program at Emory University include:

Aim 1. To attract outstanding physician-scientist candidates to the pursuit of basic science research careers in areas relevant to child health.
Aim 2. To prepare physician-scientists for independent careers in child health research through a dynamic career development program involving mentored laboratory research experience, didactic course work, career skills training, and academic participation. This program includes opportunities to work and collaborate with investigators at Emory, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and Georgia Tech
Aim 3. To monitor the progress of the CHRCDA trainees and assess the overall success of the program through rigorous internal and external review processes. The program will include mechanisms to respond to ongoing reviews in ways that will facilitate programmatic goals.

What other career development opportunities are available to pediatrician physician scientists at Emory University?
 The APSP K12 focuses exclusively on training pediatric scientists engaged in basic research. This complements yet does not overlap with the existing Georgia CTSA KL2 Scholars Program, whose focus is expressly on clinical and translational career development for MD clinician scientists and PhD translational scientists and is available for all disciplines, pediatric or adult, across multiple partner institutions. Although separate programs, the APSP successfully leverages the Georgia CTSA career development infrastructure and didactic course offerings such as MSCR 594M - Scientific and Grant Writing, and MSCR 761M - Introduction to Clinical and Translational Research. The K-Club and internal pilot awards programs provide additional career development options for all junior health scientists at Emory.

How is the success of the APSP judged?

It is critical that we recruit new faculty into the Atlanta Pediatric Scholars Program who are pursuing basic science careers and who will be very productive during and after training. The program is judged by the success of its scholars, including by the quality and quantity of their publications and especially by their ability to obtain independent NIH grants. The reviewers for our renewal application will assess specific criteria outlined in the goals of the program. The best scenario is that we will be able to show a number of trainees who have become R01 (potentially K08) funded in their area of research and who are producing high quality publications that demonstrate high productivity and independence.

Scholar Name Mentor(s) Project Title
Nitika Gupta, MD Allan Kirk, MD, PhD and Dmitry Shayakhmetov, PhD

Role of GLP-1R agonists in ischemia reperfusion injury of steatotic liver

Ann Chahroudi, MD, PhD Paul Spearman, MD and Mirko Paiardini, PhD Identification of CD4+ T memory stem cells as an HIV/SIV reservoir
Anita McElroy, MD, PhD Stuart Nichol, PhD (CDC), Christina Spiropoulou, PhD (CDC), Jens Wrammert, PhD (DOP) Characterization of the human monoclonal antibody repertoire in RVFV vaccine recipients and the development of human monoclonal antibodies as a novel therapeutics
Pamela Winterberg, MD Hanjoong Jo, PhD (BME), Mary Wagner, PhD (DOP), Mandy Ford, PhD (Surgery) Mechanisms of diastolic dysfunction during experimental chronic kidney disease (CKD)
Benjamin Watkins, MD Leslie Kean, MD, PhD (Seattle), Mandy Ford, PhD (Surgery) Utilizing Gene Microarray Expression Profiles and Flow Cytometric Analysis in the Identification of the Unique Molecular Signature of Acute Graft-Versus-Host Disease
Christina Rostad, MD Martin Moore, PhD and Paul Spearman, MD The development of an RSV live attenuated vaccine with enhanced immunogenicity and thermostability
Glaivy Batsuli, MD John "Pete" Lollar, MD and Shannon Meeks, MD Characterizing the Immune Response to the C1 Domain of Factor VIII
Katherine Minson, MD Doug Graham, MD, PhD Combination MERTK and FLT3 inhibition in acute myeloid leukemia

Shanmuganathan (Shan) Chandrakasan, MD

H. Trent Spencer, PhD, Kevin Bunting, PhD, Edmund K. Waller, MD, PhD, FACP, and Chris P. Larsen, MD, DPhil

Targeted non-genotoxic hematopoietic stem cell transplant conditioning approach

Jocelyn Grunwell, MD, PhD

Anne Fitzpatrick, PhD, RN, CPNP, MSCR and Rabin Tirouvanziam, PhD

Targeting Neutrophilic Inflammation in Pediatric Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Sunil Raikar, MD

H. Trent Spencer, PhD and Doug Graham, MD, PhD

Targeting T-cell malignancies with chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) gamma delta T cells

Holly Bauser-Heaton, MD, PhD Wilbur Lam, MD, PhD and Wiliam Mahle, MD

3D Printed In Vitro Model for Investigation of Mechanisms of Pulmonary Artery Conduit Stenosis

Satheesh Chonat, MD Sean Stowell, MD, PhD and Clint Joiner, MD, PhD and Michael Koval, PhD Modeling Acute Lung Injury in Sickle Cell Mice
Loretta Reyes, MD Claudia Morris, MD and Roy Sutliff, PhD

Role of Increased Arginase Activity in the Development of Cardiovascular Disease in a Murine Model of Chronic Kidney Disease

Patricia E. Zerra, MD Sean Stowell, MD, PhD and Shannon Meeks, MD The Role of Type I Interferons in Factor VIII Inhibitor Formation

Special Keynote Speaker:
“Reflections on a Career in Pediatric HIV/AIDS:  From America to Africa and Back Again”

Mark W. Kline, M.D.
Texas Children’s Hospital

J.S. Abercrombie Professor and Chairman
Ralph D. Feigin Endowed Chair
Department of Pediatrics
Baylor College of Medicine


Oral Presenter Biographical Sketches

Abstract Book

Recording of the Oral and Keynote Presentations


Sponsored by the NICHD supported Atlanta Pediatric Scholars Program, K12HD072245