The latest translational research project for Rajarshi Sengupta, PhD, just might be his own career. He was inspired to look beyond his current work as a staff scientist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute to get a better perspective of how administrators support clinical research. He will have the opportunity to do so because leaders of the Research Institute’s Office of Postdoctoral Affairs selected Dr. Sengupta as a Research Administration Fellow.
“I’ve always done research that’s kind of translational, kind of close to clinical work,” said Dr. Sengupta, who works in the lab of Robert Heuckeroth, MD, PhD, at CHOP studying the development and disorders of the enteric nervous system. “Taking things from bench to bedside takes a long time, though. People who facilitate clinical and translational research as administrators can see the impact of that work on a much shorter time frame than I can with what I’m doing in the lab. That is satisfying, being part of a team that makes things happen for patients.”
Dr. Sengupta begins the part-time, unpaid, six-month research administration fellowship Feb. 8, taking on this role concurrently with his research and other duties as a lab manager. The overall goal of the fellowship program, run by the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, is to provide fellows with a broad overview of leadership in CHOP Research Administration with administrative directors in the fellows’ areas of interest.
Dr. Sengupta hopes to learn more about what research administrators do on a day-to-day basis to contribute to numerous aspects of clinical and translational research. During the first month of the fellowship, he will meet with research administration leaders to become familiar with their work, and subsequently he will complete a fellowship project.
“Even if I don’t go into research administration and apply for a faculty position instead, I believe the skills and experience I gain from the fellowship are going to be really important no matter what,” Dr. Sengupta said.
Past fellows have reported finding the experience rewarding and educational.
“I have nothing but wonderful things to say about my experience with the research administration fellowship,” said Katherine Yang-Iott, who was a fellow in 2015, and who credits the experience for opening the door to her newly created position as CHOP’s first Research Navigator. “One of the best parts of the administration is the access to senior leadership and staff, so I think it's important to build those relationships and show them how you work and what you are capable of achieving.”