Postdoctoral Translational Scholars Program (PTSP)

The Postdoctoral Translational Scholars Program (PTSP) is a multidisciplinary career development award designed to prepare individuals with a PhD in a biomedical science or social science discipline for independent careers in translational research. The program invites a broad array of scientists from many disciplines to apply.  View the 2014 PTSP cohort.


The PTSP is tailored to the individual's research training needs, but includes the opportunity to pursue a variety of educational offerings such as a clinical immersion experience and didactic course work in regulation sciences, research ethics, biostatistics and/or specialty electives related to the person’s field of interest. Scholars are required to complete a translational research project. All scholars have a cross-disciplinary mentoring team to assist them with their career development and the research project. Award funding can be used to support the individual's salary, course work, and/or research activities. Postdoctoral Translational Scholars will be expected to commit 50-75% of full time effort to the program. Scholars can apply to the general PTSP and to any of the three theme-based programs, if they choose: U-M Injury Center, Metabolomics Program, and Organogenesis. 

Who is eligible?

  • Individuals with a PhD who are interested in obtaining additional training in translational sciences
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident
  • Program provides trainees with a $100,000 career development award
  • Funding can be utilized over 2-3 years
  • The program begins June 1, and runs for two years.

Check here for frequently asked questions.


The application deadline is March 1, 2016.  We are no longer accepting applications for 2015.

Theme-based PTSP programs:

The Organogenesis PTSP program supports scholars who are interested in applying a basic science research background to translational organogenesis. Other requirements are 1) engage in the Center for Organogenesis; 2) participate in an interdisciplinary working group of two or more labs focused on organ-specific research; and 3) interact with one of the UMHS Destination Programs or similar clinical programs aligned along an organ system theme.

The Metabolomics  PTSP supports scholars who are interested in applying a basic research background to the emerging area of metabolomics in clinical or translational research. Potential areas of study include: interventional or epidemiological studies in human nutrition; human disease biomarker discovery; elucidation of metabolic pathways in human tissues in vitro or transplanted ectopically and evaluation of metabolism in response to disease, nutrients, drugs, environmental toxins or ionizing radiation.

The U-M Injury Center PTSP supports Ph.D. scholars trained in the fields of social science, public health, engineering, basic science, or computational science who are interested in conducting and translating injury research into practice and policy to reduce the burden of injury. Research on intentional and unintentional injury prevention and control will be supported. Potential areas of study include: transportation safety , substance abuse including prescription drug misuse and overdose, traumatic brain injury/ concussion/ or violence, such as child maltreatment, intimate partner violence, youth violence, community violence, or suicide. The relationship of injury to other public health issues, such as disparities, gender issues, health, race/ethnicity/culture, maternal/child health, mental health, and risk behavior, is also of interest.

The Head and Neck SPORE PTSP program is an interdisciplinary translational research program committed to advancing clinical and basic research in the biology, prevention and cure of head and neck squamous carcinoma. The program involves multiple collaborative translational projects and is supported by extensive Tissue Repository, Biostatistical Core and Administrative Core services. Future development of head and neck cancer translational research is critically dependent on supporting and enhancing early career development of investigators committed to cancer research, and the recruitment of superb scientists from a variety of basic science fields. There is currently a critical lack of translational scientists committed to head and neck cancer research. Our aim is to attract basic scientists to collaborate in translational research linked to one of the major Head and Neck SPORE projects for an intensive 2-yr immersion in clinical research. For more information, please contact Dr. Gregory Wolf.



"Through directed coursework and clinical activities, the PTSP has helped me discover important ways in which I can apply my research, and how to implement translational research projects."

-David Hsu, PhD

Our 2014 PTSP Cohort:

Aqeel Ahmed, PhD (Department of Medicinal Chemistry, College of Pharmacy) will study the use of computational biology to repurpose existing drugs using the Binding MOAD (Mother Of All databases) dataset of protein-ligand complexes. If we can find new uses for existing drugs, we can bring new treatments to patients. These treatments can be developed much more quickly and with much less expense than traditional drug development. Mentors: Heather Carlson (Medicinal Chemistry) and Kathleen Stringer and Mike Dorsch (both of the College of Pharmacy).

Elizabeth Austic, PhD MSW MSI (Institute for Research on Women and Gender, Injury Center) will evaluate a preventive intervention designed to reduce injury by promoting safe use, storage, and disposal of stimulant medication among adolescents with ADHD. The study will explore the ABCD, an original, innovative preventive intervention that uses medication agreements and text messages to prevent medical misuse, diversion and improper disposal of stimulant medication, as well as injuries secondary to these behaviors. Mentors: Maureen Walton (Psychiatry, School of Medicine) and Carol Boyd (School of Nursing).

Elise Demitrack, PhD (Molecular and Integrative Physiology, School of Medicine) will study Notch regulation of human gastric cancer progression. Gastric cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related mortality worldwide; however, the signaling pathways that initiate pre-cancerous changes in the stomach are largely unknown. This study aims to identify the role of such pathways in driving the early, pre-cancerous cellular transformations that take place prior to cancer development. Mentors: Linda Samuelson (Internal Medicine, Molecular and Integrative Physiology) and Juanita Merchant (Internal Medicine, Molecular and Integrative Physiology).

Emily Gardinier, PhD (Movement Science, Kinesiology) will study walking performance and knee loads, using a powered ankle-foot prosthesis. The results of this study will give health professionals and patients information about the ability of a new, powered ankle-foot prosthesis to improve walking performance and reduce loading in their non-amputated knee, which may reduce the risk for knee osteoarthritis later in life. Mentors: Deanna Gates (Kinesiology) and Brian Kelly (Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation).

Michele Gornick, MA, PhD (Center for Bioethics and Computational Medicine (CBSSM), Internal Medicine and VA Center for Clinical Management Research) will study precision medicine by assessing critical barriers clinicians face integrating large, complex and often ambiguous amounts of genomic information into patient care. This project will develop and evaluate prototype test reports for cancer related genomic sequencing findings through user-centered design. Mentors: Angela Fagerlin (CBSSM, Internal Medicine) and Elena Stoffel (Gastroenterology, Internal Medicine).

Yasamin Kusunoki, PhD (Assistant Research Scientist, Survey Research Center/Population Studies Center) will study the dynamics of intimate partner violence (IPV) within young women’s intimate relationships and the extent to which IPV influences their contraceptive behaviors. The study will provide a more nuanced understanding of a highly prevalent yet still poorly understood issue and inform prevention, intervention, and treatment strategies aimed at reducing IPV and reproductive health disparities among young people. Mentors: Marc Zimmerman (Health Behavior Health Education, School of Public Health) and Vanessa Dalton (OBGYN, School of Medicine).**

Yasamin Kusunoki recently contributed a piece on research in the Fall 2014 Population Studies Center (PSC) newsletter on pages 8-9. 

Jiajia Luo, MSE, PhD (Mechanical Engineering) will study the development of an ultra-flexible disposable sensor array to simultaneously measure urethral closure pressure and striated sphincter muscle electromyography. This project seeks to design the next generation ultra-flexible multi-point measurement device to accurately measure static and dynamic urethral and sphincter behavior free of artifacts. The goal is to provide patient specific recommendations for treatment and to guide prevention strategies to address injury mechanisms, for this priority women’s health issue. Mentors: James Ashton-Miller (Mechanical Engineering) and John DeLancey (OBGYN, School of Medicine).

Robert Nidetz, PhD (Mechanical Engineering ) will study a high-throughput microfluidic immunophenotyping assay platform for real-time diagnosis of pediatric post-cardiopulmonary bypass surgery immunoparalysis. The easy to implement platform developed through this research will also benefit patients receiving immune suppression therapy (e.g. transplant recipients, those with autoimmune diseases, etc.) and the core technologies can easily be adapted for use to detect and diagnose other illnesses and assist researchers in developing therapeutic tools to aid in the patient’s survival. Mentors: Katsu Kurabayashi (Mechanical Engineering) and Timothy Cornell (Pediatrics and Critical Care Medicine).

Gautam Rajpal, PhD (Neurology, School of Medicine) will study the identification of FDA approved drugs to treat SCA3. No treatment currently exists for SCA3, a neurodegenerative disease, and drug companies are not researching the disease due to its rarity and complexity. Academic research provides the only hope in finding a treatment. This research is the first attempt by any lab to use FDA approved drugs target the disease-causing protein. Mentors: Henry Paulson (Neurology) and Nouri Neamati (Medicinal Chemistry, College of Pharmacy).

Kelli Sas, PhD (Nephrology, Internal Medicine) will study the role of altered glucose flux in human diabetic nephropathy. Diabetic nephropathy is associated with serious consequences including end stage renal disease, increased cardiovascular risk and mortality, high socio-economic costs and poor quality of life. This study will determine the role of metabolic alterations in the progression of diabetic nephropathy and will provide new therapeutic targets for disease prevention and treatment. Mentors: Subramaniam Pennathur (Nephrology, Internal Medicine, School of Medicine) and Rodica Pop-Busui (Metabolism, Endocrinology and Diabetes, School of Medicine).***

Anna Seekatz, PhD (Infectious Diseases, Internal Medicine) will look at the dynamics of C. difficile and the gut microbiome in recurrent C. difficile infection. The proposed research is designed to identify the specific host-associated and pathogen-associated bacterial disease determinants important in recurrent C. difficile infection. These studies will greatly improve future treatment options for C. difficile infection. Mentors: Vincent Young (Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine) and John Kao (Gastroenterology, School of Medicine).

Michael Taveirne, PhD (Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine) will study the structure of the human gut microbiota and its influence on dynamics of Campylobacter infection. Knowledge on virulence mechanisms and pathogenesis of Campylobacter in human disease is lacking. Using high-throughput sequencing tools and novel animal models, Dr. Taveirne will advance the knowledge of how this pathogen causes disease in humans. Mentors: Victor DiRita (Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine), and N. Cary Engleberg (Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine).

Jessica Werner, PhD (Pathology, School of Medicine) will study the identification and Analysis of Pathobionts in Sarcoid Tissue. The cause of sarcoidosis remains unknown, and current treatments have limited effectiveness and decrease quality of life for sarcoidosis patients. Determining the factors involved in the generation of sarcoidosis granulomas is critical to improving therapies for these patients, and improving their overall quality of life. Mentors: Gabriel Nuñez (Pathology, School of Medicine) and Eric White (Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine).

*Organogenesis PTSP
**Injury Center PTSP
***Metabalomics PTSP

Dr. Bethany Moore, former director of the MICHR PTSP, explains the value of the PTSP fellowship, reflecting on her own path from basic scientist to clinical/translational researcher:


Call or email:
Shannon Marshall-Wilhelm
Admissions Coordinator

Program Director
Donna Shewach, PhD (Pharmacology) 

Program Administrator
Lise Anderson, MPH


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