The applicant, Dr. Amanda Szabo, underwent graduate training in the area of physical activity (PA) cognitive performance and aging and is currently in post-doctoral training in weight management. Dr. Szabo has developed an interest in the impact of weight loss and maintenance on executive control in over weight and obese adults and is seeking dedicated training time to expand her experience in this area along with formal training in conducting weight management trials and data analysis for clinical trials research. Dr. Szabo and her mentorship team have identified a training plan to address gaps in her previous training. Dr. Szabo's training plan objectives include 1) obtaining hands on experience in clinical trial research focused on weight management (HL11842, PI - Donnelly) at the University of Kansas Medical Center, 2) gaining experience and training in collection and data analysis for clinical trial research along with specific training in techniques for analyzing executive performance data, 3) attending weekly investigator and journal club meetings to observe, discuss and participate in several ongoing NIH studies and have a dedicated venue to discuss current and future manuscripts/research grants, 4) participating in up to 7 professional development and clinical trial seminars each year and training in the responsible conduct of research, 5) developing 2 first-author manuscripts for publication each year, and 6) developing and completing a grant application (e.g., NIH K award - K99/R00). The POWeR study provides an excellent and timely opportunity for Dr. Szabo to add experiences that will further her development towards becoming an independent funded investigator conducting weight management interventions and assessing executive control. The F32 mechanism will support Dr. Szabo with dedicated time to advance her knowledge and skills in weight management interventions, the responsible conduct of research, study administration, data collection, research design, and advanced data analysis techniques for missing data and for clinical trials. In addition to these training experiences, Dr. Szabo has proposed unique areas of data collection and analysis previously not planned in the POWeR study. Dr. Szabo plans to 1) to determine how a typical weight loss program, consisting of diet and exercise, impacts executive control and 2) to determine how exercise and weight change over a 12 month weight maintenance period impacts executive control. Dr. Szabo's training to date will provide a solid foundation to build upon as she gains first- hand experience in areas where gaps in her training exist. The F32 award will provide the financial assistance and protected time necessary to successfully achieve these training objectives and provide a successful transition to independence.
The purpose of this training program is to provide Dr. Szabo the opportunity to gain valuable experience in clinical trial research specifically working with overweight and obese individuals participating the prevention of weight regain study (POWeR) and to evaluate the impact of weight loss and weight maintenance on executive control. This training plan will enable Dr. Szabo to pursue her career goal of building an independent funded research agenda to better understand the role of diet, physical activity and executive function performance.