The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) have partnered to integrate advanced imaging and sensing coupled with computing needed to translate technological innovation to address the global cardiometabolic disease. The UCLA/Caltech integrated Theranostic Engineering to Advance Metabolic Medicine (iTEAM) Program represents a new paradigm that will be formalized into a 2-year, structured curriculum with an emphasis on recruiting the under-represented post-doctoral engineers or physical scientists into leadership roles in academia and industry. The convergence of the fundamental strengths of Caltech and clinical strengths of UCLA is conducive to individualize training in 1) advanced sensing or 2) imaging coupled with computing to address 3) cardiometabolic disease. The iTEAM program is partnering with industry leaders (Amgen, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, and Edwards Lifesciences) for internship, mentorship, and leadership programs. Both the Caltech Diversity Center and UCLA Faculty Diversity & Development Office have supported workshops on Science Technology Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) for women and underrepresented minorities. To implement this UCLA/Caltech iTEAM program, we have developed a mentoring and self-evaluating structure in the inclusion of 21 primary and co-mentors, 13 consulting mentors, and 10 industry leaders (42% female). Each iTEAM scholar will have co-mentorships: a primary mentor from enabling technologies and a secondary from cardiometabolic medicine and/or industry. In Year 1, iTEAM scholars will: 1) Participate in an initial two- day workshop including mentors, program leaders, clinicians, physician-scientists, and industry leaders to explore projects, expectations, mentorship, and goals; 2) Meet one-to-one with the Program Director(s) to finalize a primary (imaging or sensing) and a co-mentor (cardiometabolic disease or industry); 3) Develop an Individualized Development Plans (IDP) with the Advising & Training Committee to finalize the project; and 4) Strengthen fundamental knowledge in advanced imaging, sensors, or computation and didactic training for ethics in biomedical research and publications. In Year 2, iTEAM scholars will be afforded 1) the opportunity to present work-in-progress and provide feedback in quarterly meetings with a primary mentor and with a co- mentor, 2) an option to participate in a certificate in Pathways in Clinical and Translational Research from the UCLA Clinical Translational Science Institute (CTSI) or Law and Technology for FDA regulatory science (BE188/299); and/or 3) to participate in UCLA CTSI-sponsored professional development in preparation for an academic or industry career. Both Caltech and UCLA Deans have committed matching funds for each iTEAM scholar. UCLA Vice Provost for Graduate Education and has also committed supplemental trainee support to enhance the diversity of trainees. Overall, this program infuses the scientific workforce with the next generation of theranostic bioengineers prepared to solve the worldwide threat of cardiometabolic disease.

Public Health Relevance

) The Caltech/UCLA individualized Theranostic Engineering to Advance Metabolic System (Caltech/UCLA iTEAM) is distinct in applying a humanistic approach to integrate training in imaging or sensing coupled with computing to address cardiometabolic disease. The Caltech/UCLA iTEAM is synergistic to provide structured training in research, teaching, recruitment, and retention to enhance diversity and inclusion for our engineering and physical science scholars. In comparison with other comparable bioengineering T32 programs, the added value of Caltech/UCLA iTEAM is our joint mentorship with the biomedical faculty and our partnership with the industry leaders, thus, providing a nurturing ecosystem to inspire, enrich, and empower the under-represented groups to pursue leadership careers in academia or industry.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
Institutional National Research Service Award (T32)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZEB1)
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Erim, Zeynep
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University of California Los Angeles
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
Los Angeles
United States
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