Since 1998, RAND has hosted a Mini-Medical School for Social Scientists (MiniMed) in Santa Monica, California. This program is motivated by the recognition that behavioral and social research on aging is better informed and ultimately more useful if it has a sound biomedical basis. MiniMed consists of a two-day series of lectures by national and international experts on diverse biomedical topics of interest to researchers in aging. The event is held in conjunction with a second workshop on the demography, economics, and epidemiology of aging. The combination of these two workshops not only reduces organizational expenses, but, more importantly, serves to attract scholars who might otherwise not attend either program. MiniMed participants include junior and senior faculty at universities, post-doctoral and pre-doctoral trainees in aging, and researchers from non-profit foundations and institutions. Past lectures have covered such diverse topics as the aging process, genetics, and biology, as well as the latest research related to specific conditions that affect the elderly such as cancer, dementia, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Each lecture emphasizes biomedical knowledge that could inform social science research on the elderly. This conference grant would support the continuation of this well-regarded program for five years. Each year, we would invite six speakers and 65 participants for two days of lecturers on biomedical topics in Santa Monica. Another 30 participants would be invited with their own funding. Future programs will extend our reach into innovative new areas including personalized medicine, obesity in an aging population, and stem cell research while still maintaining MiniMed as a forum to help social scientists learn, understand, and interpret medical knowledge relevant to their research.
The RAND Mini Medical School for Social Scientists will provide social scientists with exposure to both fundamental and cutting-edge biomedical research. The program will facilitate the training of young researchers with interests in health care, as well as more senior researchers seeking to broaden their interdisciplinary research perspective.