PRIDE Curriculum

PRIDE Summer Institute in Cardiovascular Genetics & Epidemiology
With a focus on Cardiovascular and other Heart, Lung, Blood and Sleep Disorders

Component-1

The first component consists of a 3-week long (first) summer session. Training during this period begins with an Orientation Session, Primer in Biostatistics, which provides a survey of basic methods all mentees will benefit from, a 5-day long instruction on basic concepts and methods in genetic epidemiology (which will be spread over a 2-week period and with an emphasis on genetic association studies). This will include a series of survey lectures, special lectures, and workshops on a variety of topics including one devoted to unique issues and challenges faced by the mentees, and end with a Concluding Session. The goals and expectations of the PRIDE program will be briefly reviewed at the orientation session, including an expected time line for the entire process. The major goal of the Primer in Biostatistics and An Overview in Genetic Epidemiology is to provide a minimum background required for undertaking genetic epidemiology research on CVD (and related HLBS disorders). Other lectures and workshops are scheduled throughout. Finally, the concluding session will review what has been accomplished and what lies ahead with particular emphasis on what is expected of the mentees during the following year especially prior to the mid-year meeting. The concluding session will be attended by all mentors at Washington University involved with the particular cohort of mentees.

Orientation Session

After brief introductions by all participating faculty, mentors, and mentees, the goals and expectations of this PRIDE program will be reviewed. Brief presentations will be made by all potential mentors present, providing an outline of the currently ongoing research in their labs. Each mentee will then have an opportunity to present his/her area of research interest. The mentors will have several opportunities to critique and offer suggestions to develop the research plan. Contact information for all the mentors and faculty will be provided to encourage communication among mentees and mentors. All mentees and mentors will have access to a secure area of the PRIDE web site which includes course materials such as the schedule for the entire summer session, a contact list for guest speakers and mentors, lecture handouts, maps, and other miscellaneous information. The Program Directors will facilitate direct contacts between the mentees and mentors. Mentors will be identified for each mentee prior to the start of the Summer Institute after which mentees will meet with their mentors as often as possible (usually during lunch and/or dinner) to explore possible research ideas. While we anticipate making tentative mentor assignments to all incoming mentees ahead of the orientation session, we are able to change if needed.

A Primer in Biostatistics & Epidemiology (Dr Schechtman): The biostatistics module offers a survey of basic methods used in biostatistics. This instruction is orientated toward biostatistical and epidemiological concepts, methods, and applications to real data, rather than theory or derivation of formulas. Classical methods are reviewed (e.g., t-test, chi-square, correlation), including some multivariate methods (regression and ANOVA), and study design issues. The Epidemiology module covers topics such as: risk and projection, logistic regression, Incidence and Prevalence, Relative vs Absolute Risk, and Reporting in Medical Journals.

Special workshops on “Grant Writing and Grantsmanship” (NHLBI Program staff, Ms. Dodson, and Drs. Rao, and Schechtman): PRIDE Mentees will receive extensive training in grants writing and grantsmanship issues. NHLBI Program staff (Dr. Josephine Boyington and colleagues) cover in great detail the various types of NIH funding mechanisms, grant writing, submission, re-submission of revised applications, and NIH peer review. The discussion also covers early investigator and new investigator considerations, the areas of current research interest to the NHLBI etc. This series of 3 lectures is followed by an expert presentation by Dr. Schechtman on what the grant reviewers look for, what type of mistakes one should avoid, and how to write grants in a style readily appreciated by reviewers. Ms. Dodson provides excellent hands-on training on how best to write and present the specific aims. Her one hour lecture is followed by a group discussion and then followed by individual meeting with each mentee to discuss the specific aims of that mentee’s grant. Dr. Rao provides a presentation and discussion on how to responsively prepare revised applications (re-submissions). Collectively, they provide the nuts and bolts of grant writing, covering grantsmanship issues.

Select Lectures from an Overview of Genetic Epidemiology (Dr Treva Rice and colleagues): The primary emphasis in this survey course is on learning basic concepts and the concepts underlying some standard methods for investigating the genetic causes of human disease. The course includes some hands-on experience with real data on CVD risk factors like blood pressure and lipids using standard genetics computer programs. General overview will cover principles of Mendelian genetics including Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium and Mendelian segregation. Theories underlying familial resemblance (aggregation and heritability), linkage, and association analysis will be reviewed. In particular, association analysis will be covered in some detail, including gene-gene (epistasis) and gene-environment interactions. Since most mentees will need a working knowledge about how to carry association studies, hands-on computer labs using real data will cover this topic.

Many Survey Lectures are presented during the Summer Institute, including topics such as Biomedical Journal Publishing; Reviewing Grants; Public Databases, Data Mining and Network Analysis, and Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS) including Analysis Packages; Hypertension, Hypertensive Heart Disease and Genetics; Cardiovascular Phenotyping Laboratory; Cardiovascular Genetic Epidemiology; Clinical Application of Cardiovascular Genetics and Rare Genetic Variation and Risk for MI; Training in Responsible Conduct of Research; Group Brainstorming of grant proposals; Race/Ethnicity, Genetics, and Health Disparities; Unique Issues Faced by Researchers from Underrepresented Backgrounds in Conducting Research and in Pursuing Independent Research Careers; The Role of Genomics in Complex Disease; Career Advancement Plan for Junior Faculty; A Novel Field-Tested Approach to Writing NIH Grants: Internet Available Tools; and a Concluding Session with a review of progress up to date and discuss in detail the plans for the following year.

Evaluations of the Curriculum, Mentors, Facilities, etc will be completed throughout the Summer Institute Program.

Component-2

The second component consists of year-long activities with a mid-year meeting and spans from September until the second summer (component 3). This component involves extensive networking activities between the mentees and the mentors, reviewing the current CVD literature to identify and refine individual research interests, one mid-year meeting and writing outlines for grant applications. The “mid-year” meeting of all mentees and mentors will be scheduled and will be held either December, January or February. This meeting will include separate mentor-mentee meetings and a day-long grant review meeting. This is formatted after a mock study session where each mentee’s research plans are presented and reviewed. There will also be an annual workshop/conference among all sites & NHLBI including mentors for networking and career development.

Component-3

The third component of the program consists of the second summer session which will be approximately three weeks in length. The second summer session will include several major activities: (1) Select lectures from course on Bioinformatics, (2) Training in Responsible Conduct of Research (Navigating the Minefields of Research Integrity and Survey lectures of topics such as “An Introduction to Epigenetics and Epigenomics”, “Sample Size and Power”, “Biomarker Studies and Methods” , (3) A panel discussion on Grantsmanship Issues (4) Group Brainstorming of grant proposals with all mentors and mentees available, (5) A concluding session.

Component-4

The final component consists of extensive mentoring and follow up activities with regular evaluations and tracking for a minimum period of three additional years.