This competitive renewal application requests continuation of a predoctoral training program at the University of Florida (UF), which was first funded in 2003. The purpose of this program, consistent with the chief goal of gerontology/geriatrics, is to train predoctoral researchers in strategies related to: (a) identifyig potential antecedents of functional independence in older adults, and (b) designing and evaluating interventions that may prevent disability. Secondarily, for those elders who have already experienced substantial loss of function, this predoctoral training program focuses on identifying policies and practices that may reduce negative consequences and iatrogenic effects of treatment. Acute events like stroke, hip fracture, and chronic conditions including circulatory and cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis and cognitive impairment all constitute widely studied precursors of disability and also represent potentially modifiable factors to reduce progression down the disability pathway. Informed by major theories of functional independence, we aim to prepare pre- doctoral trainees for postdoctoral fellowships and subsequent research placements in settings including traditional disciplinary departments, clinical research environments, and multidisciplinary gerontology programs. With the co-location and collaboration between UF's health science and liberal arts campuses, UF is uniquely positioned to offer training in the biopsychosocial components of independence, as well as health care, technology, and policy aspects of care for aged persons with disability. Disciplines represented in this proposal include applied physiology and kinesiology, geriatric medicine, health services research, linguistics, neurology, neuropsychology, neuroscience, nursing, occupational therapy, psychology, sociology, and speech pathology. Core program components include (1) assignment of each student to a frequently convened multi- disciplinary mentoring team (2) formation and close tracking of productivity goals in the areas of research, education, and service ; (3) a weekly campus-wide colloquium series featuring top national speakers, local researchers in aging, and professional development; (4) required supplemental coursework and other didactics in Aging and Statistics/Methodology, as well as Responsible Conduct of Research. Our mentoring team approach allows us to actively engage energetic newer faculty (mentors in training) in primary mentoring roles, while supplementing and complementing them with seasoned, productive senior investigators. Funds are requested for six (6) predoctoral trainees. Students who have successfully completed the first year of doctoral study are eligible, although preference is given to students who have completed doctoral qualifying examinations, thereby selectively investing resources in committed, productive students who have already completed major program milestones. Of our 23 funded trainees since program start, 6 are now in faculty positions, 10 are in postdoctoral/research associate positions, 5 are still in training, and 1 has left academia. Six (27%) of the trainees are members of under-represented groups.
The purpose of this training program application is to prepare predoctoral researchers in strategies related to: (a) identifying potential antecedents of functional independence in older adults, and (b) designing and evaluating interventions that may prevent disability. Secondarily, for those elders who have already experienced substantial loss of function, this predoctoral training program focuses on identifying policies and practices that may reduce negative consequences and iatrogenic effects of treatment. We propose to continue this successful program with six pre-doctoral slots a year, reserved for students beyond the first year of doctoral study.
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