Early Career Advancement Program

Banner image for ECAP webpage

OHSU's faculty is composed of some of the most promising early career researchers and physician scientists anywhere in the world. These scientists enter academia with the skills and the expertise to make significant contributions to science and to OHSU's intellectual community. However, success in the laboratory and success as a faculty member require two different skill sets. As a result, early career research faculty members face a steep learning curve as they navigate the competitive business of doing science.

The Early Career Advancement Program (ECAP) helps alleviate these growing pains with a two pronged approach. First, early career faculty are supported to build experienced mentoring committees who help them with goal setting, budgeting, team-building, and identifying funding opportunities. Second, hands-on interactive workshops help early career faculty develop key competencies in laboratory management, grant writing, and leadership skills.

The ECAP aims to benefit all early career research faculty and the broader OHSU intellectual community. Early career faculty will develop the skills they need to advance their scientific careers, write competitive grants, build strong teams, and more. Senior faculty members help build collaborative relationships and directly influence the integration of junior faculty into academic life, and build upon their own leadership skills via our 'Training the Trainer' module. 

Overall, the ECAP is expected to increase retention of promising scientific minds, enhance inter-laboratory collaboration and communication, and improve the competitiveness of funding proposals submitted by OHSU faculty. ECAP graduates show a strong history of growth and success. Many faculty see an uptick in published papers and funded national-level grants after participating in ECAP.

The curriculum for the Early Career Advancement Program was developed in collaboration with the very first class of ECAP participants in 2014 when it was then known as the Junior Faculty Advancement Program (JFAP). Since then, the curriculum has evolved out of a commitment to continue working collaboratively with early career faculty. Every year, workshop subjects are selected based on areas of interest identified by ECAP members. Faculty who complete the program are also invited to participate again as mentors, trainers, and workshop leaders as they progress through the program.

The four pillars of ECAP

Generally, ECAP's curriculum is built around four guiding principles, called the four pillars of ECAP, which are:

Pillar 1: Formal Mentoring Committee

  • 2-3 members who are jointly selected by the chair and faculty member
  • Biannual meetings
  • Career guidance
  • Grant & manuscript pre-submission reviews
  • Review of finances

Pillar 2: Leadership Development Workshops

  • Examples: Professionalism, Self-Assessment, Expert Coaching, Team Building

Pillar 3: The Business of Science Workshops

  • Examples: Grant Writing, Promotion & Tenure, Conflict Resolution, Establishing Workplace Culture, Effective Communications

Pillar 4: Sponsorship

  • Networking
  • Advocate for professional exposure

Workshops

Far from being a lecture series, ECAP aims to deliver workshops where all perspectives are solicited and actual work gets done. Guest speakers and hands-on interactive workshops provide participants with practical experience and real-time feedback from peers and experts.

Workshops take place approximately every 2 months during the academic year and are designed to be small and interactive in order to meet the needs of individual faculty and help establish community. Faculty need not worry that they will be subjected to didactic lectures or generic career advice. Our content is designed to be high value to maximize the benefit faculty receive per unit of training time. This means that faculty can expect workshops to be fast-paced with high content value and full of experience-based learning.

Workshops tackle four broad areas:

Culture Matters

  • Time Management: Always Looking Forward
  • Establishing Workplace Culture

Career Development

  • Promotion & Tenure
  • Science Writing: Grant & Proposal Writing
  • Owning Your Research and Tech Transfer
  • Mentoring Committees

The Business of Science

  • Lab Economics
  • People Management: Leveling Up Your Labmates
  • People Management: Managing the Ph.D. Journey

Leadership Development

  • Conflict Resolution
  • Public Speaking: Elevator Speeches
  • Team Science and Collaboration

The level of participation is entirely up to you. All ECAP workshops and trainings are voluntary, so you are welcome to pick and choose which parts of the program you think you would benefit the most from attending. Outside of formal group workshops, faculty are encouraged to meet with their mentors 1-2 times per year. 2-3 meetings with mentors per year is recommended to allow for goal setting, finance and budget review, and progress evaluation. However, early career faculty are empowered to set their own priorities and decide for themselves how best to participate.

ECAP started as a series of workshops and meetings coordinated by leadership in the Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology (CDCB) department in 2014, known then as the Junior Faculty Advancement Program (JFAP). Since then, the program has grown to encompass faculty in the Knight Cancer Institute and the School of Medicine. The program currently serves over 150 faculty across 30 unique departments at OHSU.

Since 2014, ECAP has been recognized as a powerful tool to help early career faculty develop essential skills:

  • Recognized in the 2016 Knight Cancer Institute Cancer Center Support Grant Competitive Renewal & CCSG Site Visit and expanded from 6 to 23 faculty.
  • Reviewed in 2017 by the Dean's Committee on Faculty Advancement and served as a basis for university-wide faculty development programs.
  • In 2018, ECAP took first place at the OHSU Education Symposium for its poster, titled "Paying It Forward: A Unique Approach to Junior Faculty Professional Development in the Basic Sciences."
  • In 2019, ECAP was awarded the OHSU Official Continuing Professional Development Scientific Mentoring & Development Award.

Any early to mid-career faculty member within the School of Medicine is eligible to apply to participate in the Early Career Advancement Program. Early career is defined by the NIH as any faculty member who has not yet secured funding for a R01-level grant. Faculty with previous R01-level funding are also welcome to participate, and many do.

How to apply

ECAP maintains a rolling enrollment so early career faculty may apply at any time. To apply, a letter of support from your department or division head must be submitted to us for evaluation.

Letter of support requirements

The candidate's department or division head provides a letter of support explicitly stating the candidate's eligibility and the department's commitment to the candidate for the following items:

  • Candidate has a significant research component as part of his/her duties;
  • Candidate is on an independent PI or equivalent trajectory;
  • Candidate has protected time for research and to attend ECAP workshops;
  • Candidate is allocated resources for lab and research.

Please send the completed letter to:

Mary Heinricher, Ph.D.: heinricm@ohsu.edu

Pepper Schedin, Ph.D.: Schedin@ohsu.edu

Program directors

Pepper Schedin, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology
Schedin@ohsu.edu

Lisa Coussens, Ph.D.
Chair and Professor, Department of Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology
Associate Director for Basic Research, Knight Cancer Institute
coussensl@ohsu.edu

Steering committee members

Andrew Adey, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Molecular and Medical Genetics

Andrea Cedfeldt, M.D.
Associate Dean for Faculty Development, School of Medicine
Professor of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics

Mary Heinricher, Ph.D.
Associate Dean for Basic Research, Office of the Dean, School of Medicine
Professor of Neurological Surgery

Susan Ingram, Ph.D.
Professor of Neurological Surgery

Christina Lancioni, M.D.
Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases

Missy Wong, Ph.D.
Associate Professor & Vice Chair, Department of Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology

Emeritus committee members

Joshi Alumkal, M.D.
2016 - 2019

Participants are awarded a certificate of accomplishment from the Dean of the School of Medicine and program leadership as recognition for completing ECAP Module 1, which equals approximately 10 hours of workshop participation. At that point, the faculty member advances to a 'Train the Trainer' model, whereby the faculty member contributes to the next generation of workshop content while advancing their own leadership training. Completion of an additional 10 hours at this level of leadership training satisfies the requirements for the ECAP Module 2 certificate of accomplishment. These accomplishments reflect well in early career faculty P&T dossiers, grant submissions, and more.

For general inquiries, please email earlycareeradvprgm@ohsu.edu

Support team

Kacy Kesecker
kesecker@ohsu.edu