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Allison Aiello (Department of Epidemiology) and Robert Hummer (Department of Sociology) are the principal investigators of CPC’s new NICHD-funded training program, “From Biological to Social Processes: Interdisciplinary Training in Life Course Research.” The National Institutes of Health has called for novel integrative research, from cells to society, to better address the web of factors that cause persistent health inequalities and result in relatively poor overall levels of health in US society. Aiello and Hummer’s project aims to strengthen the pre- and post-doctoral training approaches that will facilitate greater scientific understanding of the complex constellation of factors that fundamentally influence US health and well-being from birth through adulthood. The project brings together pre- and post-doctoral trainees entering from either the social sciences or the biological/health sciences who will be able to conduct integrative work across these areas that will address some of the country’s most pressing health problems. Specifically, the program will recruit promising trainees from both the social and biological/health sciences and will focus on five critical objectives:

  • To facilitate trainees gaining substantial expertise in a gap area of study outside of their own discipline;
  • To immerse trainees in interdisciplinary interactions, exchanges, and experiences that will broaden their scientific proficiency;
  • To facilitate trainees learning from leading experts on how to conduct integrated biological/health- social population health research at the highest level;
  • To provide trainees with a first-rate structure and culture to produce their own integrative research at the highest level;
  • To provide trainees with instruction on best practices for conducting integrated research with the highest ethical standards in mind.

The project aims to create junior scientists who are able to conduct cutting edge integrative social and biological/health sciences research and who will be future leaders who will use these new approaches to improve human health and well-being in the US and beyond. To enhance these training experiences, multidisciplinary exchanges, and ultimately integration of biological/health and social approaches, the project will support four pre-doctoral trainees (two from the biological/health sciences and two from the social sciences) and one post-doctoral trainee in the first year of the program, with the number of funded slots increasing in years 2-5 of the program. With substantial guidance from the program directors and their cross-disciplinary mentors, trainees will develop individually tailored training plans in either the social sciences or biological/health sciences, with the plan tailored to prior disciplinary training and to each trainee’s research interests.

More information on this newly funded program will soon be posted on the CPC’s website. Applications for the first cohort of trainees, who will start in January 2018, will also become available on the website in September.

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