The APA Young Investigator Awards Program provides APA members with up to $15,000 to conduct a one-year study focused on various pediatric clinical research domains. Read about a past awardee’s experience below!
Colin Orr, MD, MPH
University of North Carolina
2018 Nutrition in Underserved Communities YIA
Colin Orr, MD, received the 2018 Nutrition in Underserved Communities Young Investigator Award for his study, “The Association Between Food Insecurity in the First Year of Life and Household Risk Factors and Child Health Outcomes.” His objectives were to describe the associations between food insecurity during infancy and 1) household risk factors such as maternal substance use, maternal depression, and tobacco exposure; 2) child weight/length, lead, ferritin and hemoglobin status. Colin’s local mentors for the project were Kori Flower, MD, MS, MPH (UNC), and Eliana Perrin, MD, MPH (Duke), and his national advisor was Tumaini Coker, MD, MBA (University of Washington). To date, Colin’s YIA has resulted in a platform presentation at the 2020 APA Region IV Conference, acceptance to the 2020 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting, and a manuscript-in-progress.
Colin’s Perspective on the YIA Program:
The Young Investigator Award (YIA) is a great opportunity for fellows and junior faculty who are interested in pursuing a career in research. I applied for a YIA during my primary care research fellowship. My fellowship program provided the necessary coursework to become to become a primary care researcher, focusing on statistics, research methods and epidemiology. The YIA Program supplemented this formal coursework by providing a forum to apply the knowledge I had acquired during fellowship and compete for extramural funds to conduct a research project. The YIA Program allowed me to see the entire arch of a research project starting with identifying the research question, designing the study, completing an IRB application, grant writing, managing a research team and budget, collecting and analyzing data, adapting to expected obstacles, and producing scholarly works. At each stage I learned important lessons about conducting research and have applied these lessons learned to subsequent projects. Essential to success in academic pediatrics is mentorship. Through the YIA, I was able to work closely with local and national mentors. The project-specific and career mentorship provided by my outstanding mentors led to a strong YIA project and also helped me identify the skills and experiences I would need in order to continue to grow as a researcher and achieve my ultimate career goal of being an independently funded researcher. As my YIA project comes to a close, I plan to leverage the opportunity and lessons learned through participation in the program to further my research training by applying for a career development award.
The YIA was an incredibly rewarding professional development opportunity. An element of the program that is extremely beneficial for a fellow or junior faculty member who is interested in research is the opportunity to work with senior researchers locally as well as nationally. Mentorship is essential to success in academic medicine and having the opportunity to receive mentorship from physician-scientists who are experts in their field was invaluable. Working with my mentors, I was able to receive feedback on my individual project as well as career advice. The YIA Program offers many short term and long term benefits to fellows and early career faculty. The YIA Program has had an extremely beneficial impact on my career development!