Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health, University of Colorado
The term “multidisciplinary” refers to the concept of bringing people of different strengths and scientific backgrounds together for training or research purposes. ‘Interdisciplinary’ refers to the concept of training an individual to bridge two or more disciplines. This Research Fellowship Program addresses both concepts.
The central activity is extensive, first-hand, practical training in basic, clinical, and/or population research methods focused on prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, initially hypertension in American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs). Fellows are under the supervision of a committed faculty mentor, overseen by an independent mentorship committee, and complemented by relevant coursework. The training program was designed to develop promising new investigators in prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease disparities, with interdisciplinary training that crosses the T0-T4 spectrum from basic science to community translation. While focusing on a selected area of this spectrum (e.g., basic science), trainees obtain hands-on or classroom experience with the other facets of translation in real-world clinical or community settings.
Each trainee focuses on one of three areas: stress-related biological systems, clinical interventions, or systems-level innovative health communication technologies. Fellows must have a broad interest and prior training in some aspect of human development and/or cardiovascular disease (CVD), be they MD or PhD graduates, with a strong interest in a research career in AI/AN health disparities.
The SFRN Research Fellowship includes a core of interdisciplinary coursework, research seminars, and elective rotations that each fellow completes, allowing a common core of training that crosses basic to translational science (e.g., a population science fellow will take overview coursework in biological mechanisms of stress and human development and will complete a brief rotation in clinical cardiology).
Basic and population science trainees experience clinical rotations involving hypertension prevention and treatment management for an introduction to the issues that arise in translating basic and population science findings to the clinic. Clinically trained fellows may take (based on their prior research experience and research plans) overview coursework in vascular biology and human development, basic laboratory research methods, health services research, and biostatistics, among other offerings. However, the emphasis of the fellowship remains research.
The majority of the fellows’ training focuses on the development and completion of a significant cardiovascular health disparities-oriented project with the chosen mentor. Fellows, along with their mentors, construct a mentorship committee, implement their research project, and matriculate through the required and desired course work. Fellows are encouraged to link their projects with one of the three projects and to work with either Dr. Blair, Dr. Havranek, or Dr. Steiner, each a well-established investigator. However, a rich array of additional mentors and projects is available through the network of Center members and collaborators, which provides a series of opportunities to fit with the career objectives of fellows.