Three U professors receive CTSI awards for exceptional research mentorship

Published by CTSI on September 21, 2017

Last night, CTSI honored the following individuals with Mentor of the Year Awards:

Mentor of the Year: Michele Allen, MD, MS
Biostatistical Mentor of the Year: John Connett, PhD
Junior Mentor of the Year: Reena Kartha, PhD

Individuals were nominated by their mentees, and evaluated based on the research guidance they provided as well as their interpersonal and motivational skills, promotion of career development, mentor training record, and NIH biosketch.

Awards were announced at the annual CTSI Poster Session & Reception, along with awards for outstanding posters.

Dr. Michele Allen receives 2017 CTSI Mentor of the Year Award from Anne Marie Weber-Main, PhDDr. Michele Allen (right) receives the 2017 CTSI Mentor of the Year Award from Anne Marie Weber-Main, PhD.

Mentor of the Year: Dr. Michele Allen

Michele Allen, MD, MS, in an Associate Professor at the Medical School’s Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, and Interim Director of the Program in Health Disparities Research.

Every year, Dr. Allen delivers a very popular seminar on community-based participatory research to CTSI's summer scholars.

Dr. Allen conducts community-engaged participatory research to develop substance use prevention interventions for immigrant adolescents. In addition, she’s made scientific contributions in the areas of health equity and community-based participatory research.

Excerpts from nomination letters

Letters nominating Dr. Allen were full of praise and admiration for her ability to simultaneously nurture and challenge her mentees, and for being encouraging, approachable, thoughtful, and deeply invested in the success of her mentees.

Following are excerpts from these letters, which were written by Dr. Allen’s mentees and a colleague:

“Dr. Allen helped me clarify my research interests and design an intensive research experience during my final year of medical residency working with her community-based participatory research project, project TRUST. I have now worked with Dr. Allen on Project TRUST for two years, and cannot overstate how important my experiences with this research group have been for me professionally.”

“Dr. Allen has been steadfast in her support of the career development of others. She has provided opportunities for collaboration and growth, and generously shared her experiences in support of others.”

“I have never come across a mentor who is so skilled at not only encouraging mentees, but also providing mentees with opportunities to advance their career.”

“If it were not for Dr. Allen, I would not be where I currently am, and would not go where I am possibly going. Her amazing mentorship goes beyond research training and includes the provision of personal support, guidance, and opportunities that have provided the foundation to my professional career.”

Dr. John Connett receives 2017 CTSI Biostatistical Mentor of the Year Award from Anne Marie Weber-Main, PhDDr. John Connett receives 2017 CTSI Mentor of the Year Award from Anne Marie Weber-Main, PhD.

Biostatistical Mentor of the Year: Dr. John Connett

John Connett, PhD, is a Professor with the School of Public Health’s Division of Biostatistics, and Director of CTSI’s Biostatistical Design and Analysis Center.

Dr. Connett also serves on the CTSI-Ed Internal Advisory Committee, has delivered countless presentations to CTSI scholars, and answers the call when CTSI needs a senior faculty member to serve in some capacity. He always says, “yes!”.

Dr. Connett has a wealth of experience in clinical trials research, teaching, administration, and mentoring young researchers. His research focuses on clinical trials in pulmonary disease, smoking, ophthalmology, and cardiovascular disease.

Excerpts from nomination letters

Dr. Connett was praised for being kind, caring, and generous with his time, as well as for adhering to uncompromising ethical and methodological standards and committing himself to his mentees’ research progress. Following are excerpts from letters by mentees and a colleague nominating him for this award:

“Dr. Connett has always made me feel like he was genuinely listening and his enthusiasm for my research – although well outside of his content area – consistently demonstrated that he viewed my work as a valuable and worthwhile area of scientific inquiry.”

“Dr. Connett models a high level of professional integrity, providing respectful and supportive mentoring while encouraging the production of research designed to actually answer questions that matter, rather than simply produce significant p-values.”

“Training provided through one-on-one mentoring meetings and through seminars Dr. Connett offered through CTSI continue to inform my ongoing research which is nationally and internationally competitive.”

“If one were to rank biostatisticians at the University of Minnesota for their assistance and support to junior faculty preparing grant proposals and in need of professional guidance in their clinical research career, Dr. Connett would be at the top of the list.”

Reena Kartha accepts CTSI's 2017 Junior Mentor of the Year Award from Anne Marie Weber-MainDr. Reena Kartha (right) accepts the Outstanding Junior Mentor Award from Anne Marie Weber-Main, PhD.

Junior Mentor of the Year: Dr. Reena Kartha

Reena Kartha, PhD, is a Research Assistant Professor with the College of Pharmacy’s Department of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and a Principal Scientist for the Center for Orphan Drug Research.

Her research focuses on the role of oxidative stress and inflammation in neurodegenerative conditions. Dr. Kartha generously helps interview applicants for CTSI's summer programs.

Excerpts from nomination letters

Mentees and a colleague praised Dr. Kartha for her intelligence, strength, open personality, research expertise, and for dedicating herself to her mentees’ success. Following are excerpts from letters nominating her for this award:

“Dr. Kartha is one of the most intelligent women I have ever had the honor of meeting and I am inspired by her internal strength, wisdom, confidence, and grace. She is someone I hope and aspire to become, and not just from a researcher perspective, but as a person.”

“Dr. Kartha is a caring, genuine, and giving individual, who habitually displays the qualities of an exemplary mentor and advisor.”

“Dr. Kartha, as evidenced by the accomplishments of her mentees, her training, research expertise, open and engaging personality, and dedication to student success, is an exceptional mentor.”

“What distinguishes Dr. Kartha from most other mentors is the relationships she develops with her mentees. The net result is a string of trainees who have grown substantially as researchers and, more importantly, and have developed a sense of curiosity and excitement about clinical science.”

About the awards and CTSI’s mentorship approach

CTSI has bestowed awards to outstanding mentors since 2012, when it first created the Mentor of the Year award. The program has expanded since then to recognize outstanding junior mentors (since 2014) and biostatistical mentors (since 2015).

Previous winners

2016:
Mentor of the Year Christine Wendt, MD, Medical School
Biostatistical Mentor of the Year Kyle Rudser, PhD, School of Public Health
Junior Mentor of the Year Lisa Coles, MS, PhD, College of Pharmacy

2015:
Mentor of the Year James Cloyd, III, PharmD, College of Pharmacy
Biostatistical Mentor of the Year Lynn Eberly, PhD, School of Public Health
Junior Mentor of the Year Rebecca Shlafer, MPH, PhD, Medical School

2014:
Mentor of the Year Kelvin Lim, MD, Medical School
Junior Mentor of the Year Alicia Allen, PhD, Medical School

2013:
Mentor of the Year Carol Lange, PhD, Medical School

2012:
Mentor of the Year Betsy Seaquist, MD, Medical School

Mentorship approach

Every scholar in CTSI’s six research career development programs – which support students, trainees, and junior faculty – is paired with a research mentor. This enables budding researchers to receive dedicated guidance and support as they begin their research careers.

Become a mentor

Faculty interested in becoming research mentors are encouraged to complete a brief interest form.

To help cultivate a strong pool of mentors, CTSI offers an online module used nationally to train and prepare research mentors to effectively help advance the careers of their mentees.

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