The training program `Congruent Mentorship to Reach Academic Diversity (COMRADE) in Neuroscience Research' will offer an innovative, evidence-based mentored learning experience to URM neuroscientists. The focus on URM postdocs is guided by evidence that they experience inconsistencies in mentorship, suboptimal academic social support, insufficient time for research, and lack of role models during graduate training. As recommended by the NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education, mentees will participate in individualized exercises to improve career development and verbal/written communication skills; they will be mentored while implementing their Individual Development Plan. Training will begin with a 2-week didactic program (Summer I), followed by congruent mentorship, a mid-year meeting, monthly webinars, ending with a 1-week, proposal-focused program (Summer II). Summer I comprises workshops on career and professional development, behavioral neuroscience methods, and grant writing. Summer II focuses on NIH mock study sections featuring peer proposal critiques and interactions with NINDS PO's. We will evaluate the program and track mentees' progress. Outcomes will include: 1) number of professional presentations and publications; 2) academic leadership positions; 3) academic career awards; and 4) federal and non- federal grants. Mentees' characteristics (self-efficacy, intrinsic motivation, resilience, and social support) predicting academic success will be measured pre and post enrollment.
The specific aims of the program are: 1) To select qualified URM postdocs with great potential to contribute to current knowledge of evidence-based neuroscience models utilized to reduce risk of stroke and related metabolic diseases; 2) To increase mentees' knowledge, skills, and motivation to pursue academic careers through intensive research training. This will be achieved via exposure to neuroscience research tools for risk reduction; instructions to enhance career development skills and development of successful grant applications; 3) To provide continuous congruent mentorship to mentees and to facilitate transition into independent investigators; and 4) To provide mentees with intensive individualized training and guidance in grant writing and to acquaint them with the NIH review process. This will enhance their capacity to compete successfully for funding at the national level. Mentees will participate in guided mock study section, receiving feedback on their proposals by experienced investigators and reviewing proposals of their peers. COMRADE will address a critical deficiency in the academic workforce by mentoring URM postdocs to pursue independent careers in behavioral neuroscience and health equity research. Successful completion of the program will establish a network of 24 well-trained URM neuroscientists, thus expanding capacity to reduce the burden of neurological diseases and improve health equity in disparity communities.

Public Health Relevance

The COMRADE Training and Mentoring Program will train, mentor, and sustain a network of underrepresented minority postdoctoral scientists committed to developing independent academic careers in behavioral neuroscience and health equity research. This will have a strong impact in achieving Healthy People 2020 goal to increase diversity in the academic workforce, thus expanding capacity to implement translational models to reduce the burden of neurological diseases.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Education Projects (R25)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZNS1)
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Waddy, Salina P
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New York University
New York
United States
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Jean-Louis, Girardin; Ayappa, Indu; Rapoport, David et al. (2016) Mentoring junior URM scientists to engage in sleep health disparities research: experience of the NYU PRIDE Institute. Sleep Med 18:108-17