The Hunter-Weill T32 Transdisciplinary Research Training Program will increase the number of underrepresented minority (URM) investigators who will be equipped to make meaningful contributions that will lead to the elimination of disparities in cardiopulmonary diseases. Racial and ethnic disparities in cardiopulmonary diseases remain pervasive, yet the number of racial and ethnic minorities who are engaged in academic research is low. In preparation for this resubmission, we interviewed current URM basic science trainees. We identified potential reasons for the low number of URM engaged in academic research such as concerns about receiving future NIH funding and concerns about the direct applicability of their research to solving health problems in their communities. We also surveyed 31 current basic science doctoral students about their interest in health disparities. Of these, 81% were interested in learning about the social determinants of health and 69% were interested in enrolling in a two-year Master of Science Program in health disparities. These formative discussions set the premise for this application and establishes that there is interest for the proposed program. The Hunter-Weill T32 Transdisciplinary Program offers a unique experience that blends basic science research with epidemiology, health disparities research, health policy, community engagement, and clinical exposure. Pre-doctoral trainees must be currently enrolled in a basic science PhD program and must have completed foundational coursework in basic science. The rationale for focus ing on both pre-doctoral and post-doctoral trainees is to begin cultivating interest in translational research early in their training while giving post-doctoral trainees additional mentorship that will enable them to successfully compete for funding. Administratively housed within Hunter?s Center for Translational and Basic Research, trainees will be recruited primarily from minority serving institutions: Hunter and the Graduate Center. Trainees will be paired with a faculty member from Hunter College City University of New York (CUNY), Graduate Center CUNY, or Weill Cornell Graduate School. Faculty from State University of New York at Downstate and Center for Healthful Behavior at New York University Langone Medical Center will serve as additional distinguished lecturers. The curriculum builds upon an established T32 program in Clinical Epidemiology at Weill Cornell that has a 20-year track record of developing independently funded investigators.
The aims of the new program are: 1) To recruit and retain 3 pre- and 2 post-doctoral students each year who are interested in conducting translational health disparities research in cardiopulmonary diseases; 2) To provide trainees with a mentored research experience that will complement their basic science training with core competencies in translational science and health disparities research; and 3) To enhance Hunter?s institutional capacity for NIH funding by linking them with faculty from research intensive programs. The T32 program will yield well-trained URM translational scientists who can successfully compete for funding.
STATEMENT This training program will develop a cadre of transdisciplinary scientists who can accelerate the pace with which basic science findings are translated into public health solutions. This unique program will create a research environment in which minority basic scientists can discover solutions to cardiopulmonary disparities.