A diverse research workforce is needed to meet the threats to the health and well-being of Hispanics and other medical underserved.  The gap in the quality of healthcare for these groups may be closed by providing research training, mentor’s capacity building and mentoring  opportunities to underrepresented minority (URM) faculty communities. The Professional Development Core (PDC) addresses this need by promoting the formation of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research teams,  increasing the accessibility to mentors and mentored activities, reaching out to communities and including their members as part of research teams and providing support for scientific writing and grants proposal preparation.

Our core is essential to create and enhance a critical mass of under-represented minority (URM) researchers in Puerto Rico and across the mainland US. The Alliance is positioned to meet the challenge of diversifying the research and biomedical scientist workforce and change trends.

The goal of the PDC core is to design and coordinate trainings, support activities and mentoring programs to address the need for more underrepresented minorities (URM) in clinical and translational research (CTR). The core aims to coordinate competency-based training, mentoring and support programs to maximize the productivity of  potential  CTR researchers. PDC will  engage health professionals from across the different specialties, basic scientists and the community to foster the creation of interdisciplinary teams that can target health challenges with a multiplicity of approaches, to impact the Hispanic community health needs.

Our main objective is to support the development of qualified researchers and mentors that understand, have the know-how, and are interested in addressing the health needs of a growing U.S. Hispanic medically underserved population, specifically in the focus areas of: chronic disease prevention, achievement of healthy lifestyles, emerging infectious diseases and health disparities.

  • Specific Aim 1. Address the current gap in research competencies on health and healthcare research in URM serving institutions through access to a coordinated and effective educational program.
  • Specific Aim 2. Address the mentoring gap for URM faculty by developing a robust mentoring program aimed at fostering relationships that will enhance the productivity and retention of clinical and translational researchers.
  • Specific Aim 3. Address community health needs by training scientists and community partners jointly to carry out multidisciplinary research responsive to the Hispanic community needs.

Building on the success of previous institutional/academic CTR trainings and professional programs and the experience of the precious PRCTRC, PDC will focus on the development of a critical mass of Hispanic URM mentors and investigators, through productive mentor mentee relationships.

  • Curricular Sequence
  • Access tier for Training Activities
  • Seminars and workshops
  • NIH courses and seminars
  • Development, Implementation and Assessment of Novel Training in Domain based competencies (DIAMOND)
  • The Art of Grantsmanship Course
  • Course on Scientific Communication in Clinical and Translational Research
  • Course on Health Disparities: A Translational Research Approach
  • Grants Writing Boot Camp for Competitive Applications
  • Web-based mentor training
  • Alliance’s Mentor Development (AMD) Program
  • Distance Mentoring
  • Organized Mentor-mentee Relationships
  • Mentored Research Professional Development Group (MRPDG)
  • Mentor-Mentee Team

From 2010 to 2019 the Professional Development Core (PDC) under our prior proposal The Puerto Rico Clinical & Translational Research Consortium (PRCTRC) support to over 1,000 researchers and faculty and provided 52 activities over the 9 years.

Our Services

SEMINARS, WORKSHOPS AND COURSES

The seminar program is constructed leveraging already established seminar programs such as: a) weekly inter-departmental  seminars  at Alliance institutions, b) clinical and basic sciences departments, c) research centers in the Alliance institutions all of which hold regularly scheduled seminars.

Development, Implementation and Assessment of Novel Training in Domain based competencies(DIAMOND) project

This is a collaborative effort by the University of Michigan, University of Rochester, Ohio State and Tufts Universities to provide competency-based education and training to clinical research professionals. This project provides newcomers to CTR and others with trainings ranging from the basics of clinical research to grants submission and essentials of a DSMB.

The course design recognizes that grantsmanship is a philosophy, a code of ethics, and a set of skills. Using the experiences and outcomes obtained from previous offerings, the course is designed as a 12-module online course on Blackboard, to be completed in 20 weeks, with didactic and experiential learning activities and personalized individual assistance.

To access the Art of Grantsmanship Syllabus click here

This is a 54-hours hands-on activity and is co-sponsored by the Hispanics-in-Research Capability (HiREC) Endowment (NIMHD S21MD001830. The course is offered yearly, in 16 sessions through distance learning education modality with face-to-face interaction as needed. The course aims to provide knowledge and skills to effectively communicate research outcomes in medicine and healthcare. This course is available to researchers and participants of training programs with: a) data, b) an outline for publication, and c) commitment to produce a complete scientific manuscript. This course enhances the productivity of researchers and the retention of investigators that need to publish to advance in their careers.

To access the Scientific Communication Syllabus click here

The online course defines health disparities taking into consideration the historical context, social determinants, theoretical frameworks, and the role for community engagement in translating health research for communities to reduce health disparities. The course was designed with the input from multiple institutions including members of the Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI), the HiREC leadership and of the Community Core (CoE). The course is targeted to faculty and researchers from the Research Center for Minority Institutions-Translational Research Network (RCMI-RTRN). The application requirements for the course include to have a Doctoral Degree, submit NIH Biographical Sketch, a personal letter of interest and commitment and one professional letter of recommendation.

To access the Health Disparities: A Translational Research Approach Syllabus click here

PDC will support and collaborate in all aspects of the new initiative of Early Stage Career Investigator Development (ESCID) Program developed by TRRCL, to enhance the professional development and capacity of junior faculty to engage CTR activities through a structured mentoring plan, provision of research funds, technical support and internships at mentors’ facility. PDC will: collaborate in the selection of the candidates for the ESCID program, facilitate the identification of appropriate mentors, offer training on the preparation of an Individual Development Plan (IDP).

This yearly activity was designed by the PDC to be worked on by 2 or 3 mentor-mentee teams per year, to enhance the competitiveness of new and early investigators for obtaining funds for clinical and translational research.  Selection of participants will be done through an application process from already working mentor mentees teams.

To access the Grant Writing Bootcamp Syllabus click here

MENTOR MENTEE Service

The PDC will coordinate participation in web-based mentor training curricula, followed by personal and individual sessions for additional support. The PDC will promote two web-based mentoring programs.

National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN)

It emphasizes the “benefits and challenges of diversity, inclusivity, and culture within mentoring relationships, and more broadly in the research workforce”. Potential mentors may get certified by enrolling in: My Mentor; Research Mentor trainings.

Optimizing the Practice of Mentoring

It is offered by the University of Minnesota Clinical and Translational Science Institute.   and is free and available to all.

The first activity is the follow up with face-to-face interactions of those potential mentors that have been certified through web-based trainings to clarify issues, jumpstart the establishment of networks and initiate a relationship with mentees. We aim to sponsor at least an annual activity with Dr. Adriana Baez (NRMN). PDC will co-sponsor and coordinate in a joint effort with Puerto Rico IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (PR-INBRE), COBRE, Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE), and RCMI programs, mentor training activities.

This activity will be open to faculty and doctoral and post-doctoral trainees from Alliance and outreach institutions interested in CTR. In this retreat, attendees will be immersed with experts in discussion on topics in CTR addressing health disparities and health conditions prevalent in underserved and Hispanic populations, including but not exclusively, establishment of collaborations, team science funding mechanisms, how to translate research into practice, and how to use clinical practice as a source for research questions, among others.

Certified mentors will be incorporated through the Alliance website in a collaborative working space available for all mentors to share ideas and resources and discuss challenges.

Distance mentoring is a well-recognized activity to achieve mentoring diversity and expertise. Models for successful mentoring are described by Williams, Thakore and McGee (2016). Successful distance mentoring is based on 1. Structured compacts, where expectations for the mentor and the mentee are well defined, 2) Mutual respect and commitment to comply with timespans for goal achievements, 3) Directed search to achieve the best fit between mentor and mentee, 4) Adherence to an Individual Development plan (IDP).  In the proposed framework, mentee and mentor must define the purpose of the relationship, funding available, and duration, have specific goals and expectations established mutually. (Multiple mentors, including in house local, will be encouraged so mentees will receive a variety of perspectives for career development and for research project development. The PDC will support this relationship and will sponsor as needed face to face interactions. Budget allotments have been set aside for travel of mentors or mentees.  PDC will monitor by periodic revision of the IDPs and the mentor mentees contracts and offer personalized support to keep mentee on track toward the goals.

These are designed to help new investigators develop partnerships, skills, and tools to be successful in obtaining external funding to support their goal of performing independent research. PDC will identify common thematic research areas of interest between potential mentor and mentees and foster interactions between these. Mentors and mentees teams may be comprised of clinical and basic scientists; multi- and inter-institutional teams, or senior and early investigators. Mentors may be assigned through the MRPDG activity. In addition, new mentors and mentees may be trained as a team through the mentor mentees team activity.

The goal of the MRPDG is to provide a mentored-guided program designed to help the participants develop partnerships, key skills, and tools necessary for obtaining external funding and transition to become a CTR researcher. Researchers, clinician-scientists, junior faculty, mid-career faculty refocusing their careers to CTR may participate in the MRPDG as mentees, as well as applicants to PPP and PPP grantees. In order to develop the best possible group of interdisciplinary mentors, seasoned mentors for this program will be identified in collaboration with the IDeA PR-INBRE, RCMI, UPR Center for Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE), VIVO and RTRN and the Hispanic Center of Excellence of the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine (HCOE) and from individuals certified through the mentor training activities described above. Mentees will be identified in coordination with the PPP, the BERD and the TRRCL. To enhance their possibility of success when submitting to funding mechanisms, enrollees (fellows) in the MRPDG will participate in two phases of mentoring and professional development: 1) Individual mentoring by a mentor of the MRPDG, and 2) Participation in PDC curriculum, and in 3) the design of a structured career development plan akin to those required for NIH K award mechanisms. At the end of this two-year program, participants will submit a proposal for funding.

We will identify teams of mentors/mentees and train them together in their specific roles. Our idea is to establish long-term relationships from the start based on the teams’ interest in performing CTR. We propose that growing together as a team may enhance the research relationship and the team’s productivity. The teams will participate of the activities of the MRPDG and AMD. Funds will protect 75% of the mentee’s time and effort and 10% of the mentor’s time and effort. A commitment contract will be signed between team members, the Alliance and the respective department’s chairs. This contract will include a payback clause in the event of noncompliance.

Editorial Services

  • The editors agree to perform the following:
    • Proofreading for grammar, spelling, punctuation, language use and expression.
    • Stylistic editing to clarify meaning, eliminate jargon, polish language, assure smoothness and clarity, while maintaining the author’s voice and style.
    • Send back the manuscript to the corresponding author with tracked changes and editor’s comments or queries.
  • The author will accept or reject tracked changes and address the editor’s comments or queries for final resolution.
  • We do request that the final version of the submitted manuscript be sent to us for the validation of our services.
  • Please allow at least four (4) weeks before any deadlines.

How to cite the Alliance in every publication

Be assured that the editors and staff from the Scientific Writing Unit will maintain absolute confidentiality unless consulting services from a third party are agreed upon.

VIDEOS & RESOURCES

CONTACT OUR PDC STAFF

Margarita Irizarry, PhD

Leader

Mariela Torres, DrPH

Coordinator

Harold I. Saavedra, PhD

PHSU Co-Leader

Mary Helen Mays, PhD

Consultant

María del Mar González, PhD

Consultant