AUA Investigator 2021 January Issue

Research Articles


Physician Scientist Residency Training Award to Open this Spring

The Physician Scientist Residency Training Award (PSRTA) was approved by the AUA Board of Directors this past October to become the newest standing program in the Urology Care Foundation’s research award portfolio. The 2021 competition is scheduled to open this spring and fourth-year medical students and recent graduates are eligible to apply.

The PSRTA is designed to support a three-year, research-intensive training program embedded within the post-graduate years (PGY) of urology residency (see below) to prepare the trainee to become a successful research leader.

Following PGY1-2, the PSRTA trainee will enter the first award year and take research-related courses, seminars, and other didactic training, and will complete research rotations with established scientists in laboratories at the PSRTA program site. The following two award years will focus on a research project with a carefully selected primary mentor and mentoring team. Clinical responsibilities are limited to 20% of the trainee’s full-time professional effort, and the trainee will receive $75,000 per year during the three-year award period. The PSRTA trainee will then finish the remainder of urology residency to complete a total of eight years of training.

The following program sites have been approved for this year’s competition:

  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • University of Washington

Important Dates

  • Competition open: March 2021
  • Letter of intent deadline: July 2021
  • Application deadline: September 2021
  • Awardee selected: November 2021

The PSRTA application and selection process will in no way impact the applicant’s eligibility or competitiveness for the Urology Residency Match Program. Please contact to learn more.


AUA Urology Research Mentorship Academy to Grow in 2021

The Urology Scientific Mentoring and Research Training (USMART) Academy was launched in 2018 with a mission to foster creative and impactful mentorship by pairing experienced, highly-accomplished physician-scientists and researchers with early-career investigators to provide scientific and career guidance.

The three-year pilot phase consisted of annual cohorts that paired 4-5 early-career investigators (mentees) with highly-accomplished physician-scientists and researchers (mentors). Recent Urology Care Foundation Research Scholar Award recipients who demonstrated strong trajectories toward independent research careers were invited to participate. The AUA Office of Research and the AUA Research Grants and Investigator Support Committee then recruited mentors to match with each mentee (see cohort pairings below).

Mentee Mentor Disease Area
Petra Popovics, PhD Michael Freeman, PhD Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
Abraham Hakimi, MD Roberto Pili, MD Renal Cell Carcinoma
Akanksha Mehta, MD Jeffrey Holzbeierlein, MD Male Reproduction and Infertility
Vijay Samineni, PhD Michael Chancellor, MD Interstitial Cystitis/ Painful Bladder Syndrome
Paul J. Toren, MD James Mohler, MD Prostate Cancer
Vivek Narayan, MD James Brooks, MD Renal Cell Carcinoma
Jason P. Van Batavia, MD Nicolas Cost, MD Urinary Incontinence
Christina B. Ching, MD Linda Baker, MD Urinary Tract Infections
Marianela G. Dalghi, PhD Maryrose Sullivan, PhD Overactive Bladder and Urinary Incontinence
Kymora Scotland, MD, PhD Margaret S. Pearle, MD, PhD Nephrolithiasis/Stone disease
Geoff Sonn, MD David Penson, MD, MPH Prostate Cancer
William B. Tabayoyong, MD, PhD Trinity J. Bivalacqua, MD, PhD Bladder/Transitional Cell Cancer
Arjun Sivaraman, MBBS Ashish Kamat, MD, MBBS Prostate Cancer

One of the many strengths of this program is that mentees receive support from mentors outside of their own work environment, and are provided with unbiased and constructive evaluations of their academic trajectory. While mentor-mentee relationships evolve organically, common advisory topics include grant writing, negotiating tactics, career advancement, and guidance for navigating complex or difficult research and academic situations. The AUA Office of Research conducted regular check-ins during the first year of each cohort with both mentors and mentees to review their progress and provide any programmatic or logistical support where needed.

“We are very excited to begin expanding the USMART Academy this year to include more young investigators from the broader research community,” writes Simon Kim, MD, MPH, chair of the USMART Academy. “We are grateful to have had such enthusiastic mentors and mentees participate in the pilot phase and we look forward to watching mentees continue to grow their careers.” Anticipated changes for 2021 include increasing the number of annual participants through a more-broadly competed application process, raising the overall profile of the program within the AUA and the urologic research community, and expanding eligibility criteria.

The USMART Academy was launched in 2018 as part of the 2016-2020 Research Strategic Plan. The Academy was developed by the Research Grants and Investigator Support Committee through a workgroup lead by Natasha Kyprianou, PhD, and whose members included Brant Inman, MD, Pratap Kumar, PhD, Timothy Boone, MD, PhD, and Ganesh Palapattu, MD.


Making an Impact

Celebrating 10 Years of Summer Medical Student Fellowships!

The Urology Care Foundation Summer Medical Student Fellowship program was initiated in 2010 to recruit outstanding medical students into urology and urologic research. Although the AUA and its Foundation provided research funding for medical students sporadically during the 1990s and early 2000s, 2010 marked the inaugural year of a stable and long-lasting effort to support medical students interested in urology, which was made possible by the establishment of the Herbert Brendler, MD Urology Research Fund. What began as three annual awards has since expanded to a total of 15 awards thanks to additional partnerships with the Arkansas Urologic Society and Florida Urological Society, as well as the recently-established Nathirmal N. Lalchandani, MD Urology Research Fund.

Last year was no ordinary year for this program, as research labs and institutions across the U.S. temporarily closed down or restricted personnel access due to the coronavirus pandemic. In the face of these limitations, however, both students and mentors proved to be highly adaptable and creative in meeting their research training goals. While some projects were extended or briefly suspended, others were able to pivot to remote training. Some students seized the opportunity to pick up complementary projects that could accommodate limited laboratory time. Importantly, many gained virtual presentation experience at institutional- and national-level conferences.

Despite these challenges, the 2020 awardees obtained a variety of research exposure typical to any other year, spanning both academic and private practice settings. Common experiences included IRB submission, building out medical data registries, statistical programming in R, literature reviews, and, importantly, learning basic science techniques. Some of this benchwork ranged from collecting, preparing, and analyzing patient-derived tissues and cell cultures to Western Blot and RNA analysis, as well as handling mice. Much of this work resulted in manuscript submission and abstract and poster presentations at scientific conferences such as the Society of Urologic Oncology, the Sexual Medicine Society of North America, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, AUA Section meetings, and the AUA Annual Meeting.

Summer Medical Student Fellowships provide $4,000 to support ten-week mentored research experiences during the summer. The next competition will open in October 2021. Interested applicants are encouraged to visit the AUA website.