The Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute has chosen Jennifer Coto, Ph.D., assistant professor of otolaryngology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s Division of Audiology, as the recipient of this year’s Mentored Translational Research Scholars Program Award (KL2).
KL2 awards are offered through the National Institutes of Health to support the development of newly trained clinicians into successful translational research careers—a venture Dr. Coto is ready to take on to advance her career goals.
“This award is both prestigious and competitive, allowing me the chance to obtain the experience and additional training to be a successful independently funded researcher,” Dr. Coto said. “A KL2 will allow me to obtain experience in grant writing, receive mentorship, and the opportunity to collect pilot data for a future NIH submission.”
Research and Mentorship Opportunities
During her time at the Miller School, Dr. Coto has focused on evaluating the effects of chronic conditions, including traumatic brain injuries, hearing loss, and obesity, on children’s cognitive, social, and behavioral development. She can take her research further thanks to the KL2, as she plans on studying the need for objective testing in children with concussions.
Currently, there is a high incidence of pediatric concussions because of a lack of available and adequate measures in diagnosis and care. Dr. Coto’s research proposal will expand the present utility of the FDA-approved I-PAS, a head-mounted system used for oculomotor and vestibular testing in diagnosing concussions, to pediatric patients in a clinical setting (I-PASc).
“This study will allow providers to diagnose and manage concussions objectively and efficiently,” Dr. Coto said. “The I-PASc will improve the standard of care and return-to-school/play protocols by supplying an efficient and objective tool rather than relying on self-report and clinical judgment.”
In addition to the research benefits provided by the KL2, Dr. Coto will have salary support for 75% protected time for research and a strong mentorship team guiding her in successfully executing her research study, from development to dissemination of findings. Dr. Coto’s mentorship team includes her primary mentor, Ivette Cejas, Ph.D., director of family support services at the Children’s Hearing Program and associate professor of otolaryngology at the Miller School.
Dr. Coto will also be joined by Miller School mentors Michael Hoffer, M.D., professor of otolaryngology and neurological surgery, and Xue Zhong Liu, M.D., Ph.D., Marian and Walter Hotchkiss Endowed Chair in Otolaryngology.
“Dr. Coto is truly the most dedicated and motivated early-career investigator I have worked with,” Dr. Cejas said. “The KL2 award is well deserved as she not only possesses all the skills needed to become an independently funded researcher, but her work will also be extremely impactful to the pediatric concussion population. I am honored to be her mentor and to facilitate her development as a clinical researcher.”