Career & Research Development Seminars

This weekly seminar series is designed to enhance postdoctoral trainees’ grantsmanship, professional competence, and skills for career development. The co-directors of the series, Colleen McClung, PhD and Cecile Ladouceur, PhD, focus the seminars on activities leading to a successful first faculty appointment and NIH grant application. The seminars take place from September to May.


Cecile Ladouceur, PhD, & Colleen McClung, PhD
Cecile Ladouceur, PhD, & Colleen McClung, PhD

Together with Drs. McClung and Ladouceur, the CARDS are co-taught by accomplished early-stage and mid-career investigators to ensure that the continuum of career development trajectories is covered. The seminar includes both didactic and activity-based learning experiences, the resources for which are posted on an intranet SharePoint site.

The participants of the CARDS series work in a broad range of disciplines and utilize a large spectrum of methodologies, from basic science to health services research. This diversity promotes the development of knowledge and skills in transdisciplinary collaboration, and thus translational, science. It further provides “critical mass” for practical tasks such as peer review of research proposals, and stimulates the development of peer-support networks. The seminar also supports training in the Responsible Conduct of Research.

Program Structure

Plenary Sessions

Each year, the CARDS curriculum is tailored to the needs and interests of the current participants. The course begins with eight plenary sessions and is followed by alternating workgroup and plenary sessions. Early plenary sessions cover topics on how to launch a successful research career, such as the timing of selected activities (manuscripts, collaborations, and grant writing activities) along one’s career trajectory. Special attention is given to discussions on funding opportunities and fit with career goals.  Later plenary sessions cover professional and personal skills (e.g., improving scientific writing skills, developing negotiation skills) and grantsmanship (e.g., discussing NIH grant mechanisms, applications, and the review process; conducting a mock NIH review). 

Workgroup Sessions and Research Day

CARD seminar attendee
Participants in this program learn about grant writing, funding opportunities, negotiation, the timing of activities along one's career trajectory, and more.

For the smaller workgroup sessions, participants are divided into thematically related groups of trainees who are preparing applications for funding. Led by two to three faculty each, these small groups provide extensive review of evolving drafts and thereby hands-on tutoring in grant writing.

CARDS trainees are encouraged to participate in the annual Department of Psychiatry Research Day. Over 400 people attend this event, which includes a substantial morning poster session and afternoon talks. The event exposes trainees to additional faculty in our large transdisciplinary department.