Georgia CTSA TEAMS Program Provides Successful Mentoring Opportunities

people collaborating while sitting around tables of eight

“The 1:1 mentoring, learning more about myself, and networking with other fellows has helped me feel less lost and alone. My experience in the Georgia CTSA TEAMS Program has been life-changing!” says Dr. Ines Gonzalez-Casanova.

Now accepting applications for Mentors and Fellows for the 2021-2022 academic year cohort, the Georgia CTSA TEAMS (Translational Education and Mentoring in Science) Program provides faculty, postdocs and clinical fellows the opportunity to develop professional skills in the areas of translational and clinical research, with special emphasis on multidisciplinary teams. This innovative, cohort-based model takes a three-pillared approach to mentoring and includes learning communities, 1:1 mentoring, as well as training and resources.

“The TEAMS Program has provided multi-layered mentoring support to over 40 outstanding faculty across the Georgia CTSA. With a 1:1 and learning community mentoring components, this innovative program delivers customized support to help high potential scholars develop collaborative networks and learn important team science skills,” says Georgia CTSA Collaboration & Multi-Disciplinary Team Science Team Training Lead Lillian Eby, PhD, Professor of Psychology & Director of the Owens Institute for Behavioral Research, University of Georgia.

One TEAMS Fellow who has already greatly benefited from their experience in the inaugural cohort while she was an Assistant Professor at Emory University is Ines Gonzalez-Casanova, PhD, Assistant Professor, Indiana University. Dr. Gonzalez-Casanova works in life-course prevention of cardiovascular disease, nutrition, and maternal and child health including prenatal supplementation and how the requirements for different populations vary depending on their genotype and traditional diets. She has also studied maternal vaccine acceptance in Kenya and Latin America.

“This mentoring program has made a big difference in my career development. When I was a fellow in the TEAMS program, I was a young faculty member with many research interests, but it was important to find a niche. My mentor Dr. Jesse Jacob was great and had been through the process of establishing a career in academia, developing a research agenda and getting organized. The individual development plan was valuable and helped me find a career trajectory and then move forward to continue to grow as a professional. I’m very grateful to the program. I had all of this potential that was scattered in too many different efforts, and the program was good at concentrating my energy and effort into a clear trajectory with a few articles and grants that I wanted to submit. By working with my mentor on those, I saw the results of having that guidance,” says Dr. Gonzalez-Casanova.

“TEAMS is a great opportunity. At first, I wasn’t sure what to expect and how that was going to contribute to my research, but now I would tell other people who are hesitating and thinking they know enough or don’t need additional mentoring because they have other mentors, to really consider the program. It was really surprising how much this program, the support it offers, and all of these people who are invested in seeing you succeed and move forward and the big difference that all of that can make.”

Her TEAMS Mentor comments about their experience in the program, “Dr. Gonzalez-Casanova is an incredible, motivated young investigator. Mentoring someone in a different field was a fun, wonderful experience. Although our fields are quite different, the academic life and challenges with managing people and studies while juggling responsibilities are common. Because we each came with different perspectives but a shared goal, I learned a lot,” remarks Jesse Jacob, MD, MSc, Associate Professor of Medicine and Hospital Epidemiologist at Emory University Hospital Midtown.

Another mentor-mentee partnership has led to continued research collaboration. From their participation in the TEAMS initiative, Michal Horný, PhD, MSc, Assistant Professor, Emory University School of Medicine, (TEAMS Fellow) and Amanda Abraham, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Georgia, (TEAMS Mentor) formed a new research team. “Working with Dr. Michal Horný in the CTSA mentoring program was an absolute pleasure. He is a very talented and hard-working researcher with a bright future. Although we do not share the same research interests, we both have training in health services research and health policy, so we speak the same research language. We also share the same sense of humor, which really helped us connect,” says Dr. Abraham. “As a result of the CTSA mentoring program, we began working together as part of a research team with colleagues at Emory and UGA. I look forward to continuing to work with Dr. Horný and seeing how his career develops!”

Dr. Horný adds, “My main research interest is how people experience the financial side of healthcare, including out-of-pocket costs that are responsible for a lot of the health disparities that we see. Meanwhile, my mentor Dr. Amanda Abraham has been working on multiple projects around opioid use disorder. During our mentor-mentee relationship, she learned that I have experience doing research with claims data, so we partnered up and started working together. I’m now collaborating as a data analyst in a particular project with Amanda and her colleagues on how opioids are used before, during, or after pregnancy.”

“As a Fellow, what I personally found the most valuable in the TEAMS Program was the one-on-one mentoring with Dr. Abraham. While her research is in the same field but a different subfield than what I study, she had a lot of wisdom to share to navigate early stages of a career. It was very refreshing to talk to her about my career goals and what I should be focusing on at this stage.”

“Sometimes the program matches mentors and mentees who don’t have exactly the same expertise or are not exactly in the same field. That is a strength of the program because the two can complement each other in these research projects such as in our case with Dr. Abraham and myself. If people are considering applying to the TEAMS Program but are not sure if it is right for them, I would encourage them to do it because I found that you can adjust your experience in the program to be what you want to get out of it. I believe anyone can benefit from being part of this program.”

Applications are now being accepted for the 2021-2022 Academic Year TEAMS Program.

  • Fellows: Junior-level faculty members, post-docs, or clinical fellows interested in receiving 1:1 and group mentoring, apply here.
  • Mentors: Mid- to senior-level faculty members with a strong research track record and looking to enhance their mentoring and communications skills, apply here.

Learn more about the Georgia CTSA TEAMS Program.

The goal of Georgia CTSA’s Collaboration & Multi-Disciplinary Team Science program is to promote collaboration and team science among investigators at all four Georgia CTSA institutions and beyond. To reach this goal, the Collaboration & Multi-Disciplinary Team Science team creates and collates collaboration and networking opportunities, provides team science training, organizes mentoring activities and enhances the recognition of team science.

Georgia CTSA is a statewide partnership between Emory, MSM, Georgia Tech, and UGA and is one of over 60 in a national consortium striving to improve the way biomedical research is conducted across the country. The consortium, funded through the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and the National Institutes of Health's Clinical and Translational Science Awards, shares a common vision to translate laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients, engage communities in clinical research efforts, and train the next generation of clinical investigators.