The Annual Clinician Scientist Trainee Symposium (CSTS) gathers the local medical research community at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, including research trainees at the medical student, resident and fellow levels. Trainees showcase their current and upcoming work, and leaders in the community impart their perspectives on the importance and future of research in medicine. At the 4th Annual CSTS, perseverance and cautious optimism emerged as the characteristics that trainees should foster through their future careers as clinician scientists. This was echoed by the challenges and encouraging findings presented by trainees, who conducted their work as part of research projects within the MD, MD/PhD and clinical investigator programs. The four oral presentations and 10 three-minute thesis presentations covered the full breadth of medical disciplines across the spectrum of translational medicine, from fundamental sciences through knowledge translation. The CSTS concluded with the keynote presentation by Michael Strong, current president of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, who gave a glimpse into his decades-long path of overcoming and overturning dogmatic views in the world of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis research, demonstrating how roadblocks in research can become an impulse for stronger science.