Wai Sze Chan, PhD, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Health Psychology, recently attended the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s Young Investigators Research Forum (YIRF) in Bethesda, MD. Designed to boost the career development of early-career researchers in clinical and translational sleep medicine, only about 30 investigators across the country were selected to attend.

Chan and other members of her YIRF cohort had the opportunity to practice networking skills, hear presentations from senior investigators and NIH project officers, participate in a mock grant review session and talk about their own specific research projects to get feedback from senior investigators and fellows.

Chan said the YIRF was one of the best professional opportunities she’s had. “I was at a pretty early stage of developing a grant proposal, not sure where to begin,” she said. “After talking about my Specific Aims with an NIH PO and connecting with other researchers, I had a clearer idea of how to proceed with my research ideas – even which institute and funding mechanisms would be a good fit.”

Maybe most important to Chan was the encouragement she received, both from the people and the process. “Although this field is very competitive, I learned that there are many funding and career opportunities for young investigators like me.”