Clinical Translational Science Mentored Research

Mentoring is an essential component of the PhD program, critical to both students’ success in the program as well as their overall career development. The transdisciplinary nature of clinical translational science necessitates that students receive expertise from multiple disciplines. Thus, students entering the doctoral program in clinical translational science will be assigned a program advisor, a primary mentor and a co-mentor, all of which will assist the student in designing their Planned Program of Study (PPOS), and to provide guidance toward degree completion. Students are required to meet regularly with their advisors, and their primary and co-mentors, who will monitor their students’ progress.

Program Advisor:

Upon matriculation into the PhD program, each student will select, with oversight from the PhD Program Steering Committee, a program advisor who will advise the student over the initial year of the program regarding selection of courses and research practicums. The program advisor will also assist students in identifying and selecting appropriate primary and co-mentors. If the advisor’s research interests are aligned with the student, the advisor may become either the primary or co-mentor for their student. As a student moves through the program, s/he will select a primary and co-mentor based on research and career interests.

The student will meet with their program advisor at least once per semester to discuss course plans for the semester. Once completed, the advisor will remove the “Advisor Hold” on the student’s record within the SIS so the student may register for courses.

Primary Mentor:

Each student will have a primary mentor, whose field of interest and area of expertise closely match that of the student’s dissertation area.  The primary mentor will be selected by the student and takes primary responsibility for guiding the student’s PhD research and training. The primary mentor functions in the role of ‘advisor’ for School of Graduate Studies’ purposes (e.g. approving course of study, signing necessary approval documents, etc.). The primary mentor could include faculty from any of CWRU’s schools and departments, as well as individuals from the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of MedicineMetroHealth Medical CenterUniversity Hospitals, or Veteran’s Administration Medical Center.

It is highly recommended that students select a primary mentor by the end of program Year 1. All students are required to have selected a primary mentor by the end of Year 2.


The co-mentor’s role is to provide complementary guidance for the student’s overall course of study as well as career plans and overall professional development. Initially, a co-mentor will be assigned to each incoming student based on the student’s scientific interests. Like the primary mentors, co-mentors could include faculty from any of CWRU’s schools and departments, as well as individuals from the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, MetroHealth Medical Center, University Hospitals, Louis Stokes Veteran’s Administration Medical Center, or with appropriate faculty appointments. Both the primary and co-mentor will serve on the student’s dissertation committee, with one functioning as committee chairperson. Per School of Graduate Studies’ regulations, the committee chairperson must be a tenured or tenure-track faculty member. Qualifications to be a primary or co-mentor in the PhD program consist of the following:

  • Faculty appointment at CWRU.
  • Substantial mentoring experience, with a demonstrated track record of successfully mentoring students and trainees through doctoral programs.
  • Expertise in a field or content area specific to a doctoral student’s dissertation topic.
  • Track record of independent funding from NIH, corporations, foundations.
  • Productivity in publishing in a clinical investigation domain.

A faculty member may serve as both initial advisor and primary or co-mentor for a single student, depending on the student’s field of interest. Each student’s mentoring team, and changes to that team, will be approved by program leadership.

In cases where a student has a research topic not aligned with any of the expertise of the existing core faculty, the program steering committee will work with the student to identify faculty members across CWRU schools and departments, as well as individuals with appropriate CWRU faculty appointments based at other local institutions with the appropriate expertise to function as a mentor. These individuals will be invited to join the program’s core faculty.