Young Investigators Meeting


History of the Young Investigators Initiative

The United States Bone and Joint Initiative (USBJI) is dedicated to raising public awareness and to increasing research of musculoskeletal diseases in the United States. The burden of musculoskeletal diseases in the United States and worldwide is growing rapidly due to the aging population.  There are many gaps in both the diagnosis and treatment of these diseases.  Once discoveries are made in the laboratory, clinical research studies need to be carried out to determine if the discovery can be applied to clinical care.  The number of trained and funded junior investigators is low, both in the United States and around the world. In 2002, Dr. Stephen Katz, Director of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, chaired a meeting at NIH to report that clinical and translational research in the diseases of the musculoskeletal system was inadequate with few young researchers entering this field of research or obtaining peer reviewed grant funding.  Clearly, clinical research on musculoskeletal diseases performed by young investigators is not keeping pace with the increasing burden of these diseases in the United States. 

One of the major hurdles to a young clinical investigator's success is insufficient mentoring in how to write and secure a grant in clinical research.  To address this unmet clinical research need, the USBJI Research Committee formed a special task force in 2003, chaired by Dr. Nancy Lane.  The USBJI Research Committee developed a program consisting of workshops and mentoring to provide early-career clinical investigators an opportunity to work with experienced researchers in the musculoskeletal disease fields to assist them in securing funding and learning other survival skills required for pursuing a clinical research career.  The USBJI Young Investigators Initiative was introduced, and the first workshop was held in Chicago, IL in May 2005 and there have been two workshops a year (one in the fall and one in the spring) every year since spring of 2005.  The spring workshops are held in Chicago, Illinois and the fall workshop is held in Canada, either Vancouver or Toronto, Canada with some support from the Canadian Bone and Joint Decade group.


A call for applications is sent out twice a year.  Personal letters and notices are sent to department heads and training program directors at all medical colleges and universities.  USBJI participating organizations issue follow-up notices, describing the program and soliciting applications on their websites. To date, the discipline departments that have issued individual letters include orthopaedics, rheumatology, physical therapy, anatomy, dentistry, chiropractic, osteopathy, and endocrinology. In addition, discipline-specific professional healthcare organizations issue calls for applications through their own networks.

A section of the USBJI website dedicated to the Young Investigator Initiative contains information on the program and application details. The Initiative’s newsletter carries reports and information on the program.  Also, a number of the participating members of the USBJI, including the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, American College of Rheumatology, Arthritis Foundation, American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, American Physical Therapy Association, Orthopaedic Research Society include the announcement about the Young Investigator Initiative on their society websites. 

This workshop series is open to promising junior faculty, senior fellows and post-doctoral researchers nominated by their department or division chairs. It is also open to senior fellows and residents who are doing research and have a faculty appointment in place or confirmed.  Investigators selected to take part in the program attend two workshops, twelve months apart, and work with faculty between workshops to develop their grant proposals. Attendance at the second workshop, which reviews completed proposals and summary statements, depends on the status of investigators and their funding proposals.

The candidate’s home institution pledges to support the candidate, including roundtrip airfare for each workshop attendance, a contribution of $500 to defer the costs of the workshops, and permission to spend two days twice a year at the Young Investigators Initiative workshops. 

Over 200 participants have attended one or more sessions of this program.  These participants come from the following fields: Biomedical Engineering, Chiropractics, Dentistry, Endocrinology, Internal Medicine, Kinesiology, Occupational Therapy, Orthopaedics, Rheumatology, Osteopathics, Pathology, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Physical Therapy, and Social/Preventative Medicine.  Participants may have M.D., Ph.D., or other equivalents doctoral degrees.  Participants are drawn from across the United States and Canada. 

Structure of the Program

The Young Investigators Initiative is divided into two sessions.  The first workshop focuses on grant writing skills in order to build a successful research proposal to meet NIH standards. Participants follow up from the first workshop by fully developing and submitting their research proposals, aided by faculty working with them as mentors. One year later they attend a second workshop that focuses on a review of the summary statements, a discussion on how they will respond and adjust their proposals, observe a mock study section, and have workshops on negotiating research time and work life balance.  Mentors continue to work with the young investigators until they are funded.

A basic timeline and program outline follows:

January 15 / July 15
Application deadline

Selection by reviewers

March 1 / September 1
Invitations to attend workshop

April/May and October/November

Between 1st and 2nd workshops
Work with mentors, development of applications by participants, grant submission; receipt of summary statements

Second workshop (12-18 months following first workshop) 
Mock Study Review Section           

Workshop Program:

Phase 1 Workshop - Issues in Research

  1. Lectures/workshops on methodological issues and statistics
  2. Office hours with faculty
  3. Evening Talk: Career issues including networking
  4. Depart afternoon of second day

Phase 2 Workshop – Review of completed proposals – Mock Study Section 

  1. Mock Study Section with an emphasis on the most common complaints
  2. Small Workshops to review study section comments, Summary Statements(pink sheets)
  3. Office hours with faculty
  4. Lectures on Promotion (Demystifying the promotions process), time management and employee management
  5. Participants should have prepared a grant to submit to NIH/CIHR or for industry funding 
  6. Grants reviewed by referees before the meeting to maximize feedback,

Application Instructions