The primary goal of the proposed PRIDE (RFA-HL-10-019) program at Washington University in St. Louis, School of Medicine, in "Cardiovascular Genetic Epidemiology" is to help train and mentor junior faculty from diverse ethnic groups (especially Under Represented Minorities, URM) and scientists with disabilities to develop as independent research investigators in an area of programmatic relevance to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). The program will extend basic training and intensive mentoring in genetic epidemiology and cardiovascular research. Toward this end, the currently ongoing SIPID (RFA - HL- 04- 035) Summer Institute Program will be streamlined and enhanced, using a mix of didactic instruction, survey lectures, and hands-on computer labs.
The specific aims deal with: the recruitment of a cohort of 8 mentees during each of the first 3 years and providing them with a 3-week long 1st summer institute, followed by year- long mentoring that includes a 2-day mid-year meeting, followed by a 3-week long 2nd summer institute. In general, junior faculty and scientists in early stages of their careers will be recruited. For each cohort recruited, the 1st summer institute will include hands-on learning of some of the critical concepts and methods, developing career plans and independent research plans by working closely with the mentors and Program Directors. This will be followed by year-long mentoring, with a mid-year meeting to critique the evolving research plans. The mentees will return to the 2nd summer institute which will be devoted largely to critiquing, revising, and finalizing drafts of grant applications, by taking full advantage of the extraordinary resources of the participating institutions and mentors. Mock study sections will be organized to review and critique the evolving grants, providing them with ample feedback for improvement and for eventual submission for funding. Two highlights of the proposed program are: "Group Brainstorming" meetings held on most of the days during the summer institutes where all available mentors and mentees get together to collectively review, analyze, and improve the evolving research plans of the mentees, and the special workshops devoted to unique challenges and barriers faced by diverse faculty. Evaluation and tracking tools are already in place in the context of the SIPID program. Effectiveness of the program will be measured primaily by progress made with independent grants, and with publications progress treated as a secondary measure of success.
Training a diverse biomedical workforce in state-of-the-art approaches to research in cardiovascular diseases is of considerable public health importance. A highly desirable added benefit is that the trained scientists are more likely to succeed in their research efforts to deal with health disparities among ethnic groups.