PRIDE Program in Cardiovascular Disease Comorbidities, Genetics & Epidemiology (CVD-CGE)

The overarching goal of our program is to provide creative and highly relevant educational activities with primary focus on research experiences and mentoring activities for enhancing diversity of the biomedical research workforce.


The first component consists of a 2-week long (first) summer session. Training during this period begins with an Orientation Session followed by a series of lectures (including a Primer in Biostatistics and Epidemiology and a Primer in Genetics and Genome-Wide Association Studies, which provides a survey of basic concepts and methods all mentees will benefit from), workshops on a variety of topics covering CVD comorbidities research,  special lectures devoted to unique issues and challenges faced by researchers from underrepresented backgrounds in conducting research and obtaining research funding, frequent brainstorming sessions with ongoing mentoring.

The Small Research Project (SRP) forms a critical component of the first summer institute. The SRP is a cornerstone of the program. It allows mentees to submit a competitive application for obtaining preliminary data in support of future grants.

The goals and expectations of the PRIDE program will be reviewed at the orientation session, including an expected time line for the entire process. The major goal of the various lectures is to provide a minimum background required for undertaking epidemiology and genetics research on CVD comorbidities. 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 and prior to the 2nd summer Institute.

Orientation Session

After brief introductions by all participating faculty, mentors, and mentees, the goals and expectations of this PRIDE program will be reviewed. Each mentee will 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 for PRIDE 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 or at the beginning of the first summer session after which mentees will meet with their mentors as often as possible (usually during lunch and/or dinner) to explore possible research ideas. While the mentor assignments are made at the beginning, we are able to change if needed.  Each Mentee is expected to also choose a home institution Mentor.  The Small Research Project (SRP) component will be discussed in depth, including how to leverage the 1st Summer session to prepare competitive SRP proposals.

A Primer in Biostatistics & Epidemiology (Dr Schechtman and Dr Brownson): The biostatistics module offers a survey of basic methods used in biostatistics. This instruction is oriented 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,  Drs. Rao, and Dr. 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 submission procedures, re-submission of revised applications, and NIH  review process, early 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.

Many Survey lectures are presented during the summer sessions, including topics such as Biomedical Journal Publishing; Reviewing Grants; Public Databases, Data Mining and Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS); Hypertension, Hypertensive Heart Disease and Genetics; Cardiovascular Phenotyping Laboratory; Cardiovascular Genetic Epidemiology; Lung Epidemiology and Genetics, Sleep Epidemiology and Genetics, Training in Responsible Conduct of Research; Race/Ethnicity, 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; Overview of Dissemination and Implementation Science; Group Brainstorming of proposals 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 PRIDE Program.


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 and comorbidities literature to identify critical research gaps and refine individual research interests, publication activities, developing and submitting an SRP application to address the gaps, one mid-year meeting, one annual workshop in Bethesda, MD, and writing drafts of grant applications.  Mentor-mentee interactions are the highlight of this component. The “mid-year” meeting of all mentees and mentors (including the home institution mentors) will be held in February in St Louis or virtual. Several activities are scheduled during this meeting.  First, progress made by each Mentee since the last summer session will be reviewed and documented.  Any remedial action will be suggested when the progress seems inadequate.  Separate mentor-mentee meetings will be scheduled.  Finally, reviews of each mentee’s research plans are reviewed by mentors and peer mentees. There will also be a 3-4 day annual workshop including all PRIDE Programs nationwide and NHLBI including mentors for networking and career development.  The meeting includes poster sessions, oral presentations of research, mock study section with grant proposals submitted by mentees and mentors and peer reviewers.


The third component of the program consists of the second summer session which will be two weeks in length. The second summer session will include several major activities: (1) Progress report on SRPs if funded; (2) Training in Responsible Conduct of Research:  Research Integrity and (3) Survey lectures of topics such as “A Review of Grant Writing”, “Sample Size and Power”, “Biomarker Studies and Methods”, (4) A panel discussion on grantsmanship Issues (5) Group brainstorming of grant proposals with all mentors and mentees, (6) A concluding session that targets several topics:  First, each Mentee will be asked to prepare a structured exit report summarizing their experience with the summer program and specifically describing what they liked and disliked along with recommendations for improvement.  They will also document their plans and timelines for preparing subsequent independent grant applications.  Finally, expectations will be established for continued interactions between the mentees and their mentors, and for tracking progress.


This component consists of Small Research Projects (SRPs), extensive mentoring and follow up activities with regular evaluations and tracking for a minimum period of three additional years.  The SRP is to provide support for mentee-proposed small research projects and to facilitate transition to research independence and leading to subsequent NIH research grant applications.  The SRP can serve a critical role by generating pilot data in support of “K” or “R” NIH proposals and is intended to be an initial step that will lead to research independence.

SRP eligibility, application and duration. Only NEW mentees will be eligible to apply for the SRP. As part of their application, mentees will be asked to submit ideas for the SRP program. Although not all SRP applications may be funded, we feel that this represents a great exercise and opportunity to learn the grant writing process; as such ALL Mentees will be recommended to prepare and submit an SRP proposal one month after completion of the 1st summer session. If funded, we expect that work on SRPs projects will occur between October-Sept the next year (duration up to 1 year).

SRP scientific/budget oversight. The WU PRIDE Program Leadership will provide scientific oversight for: a) preparation of competitive SRP proposals; b) monitor mentee progress through monthly oral reports; c) seek input from local institutional mentors; d) ensure appropriate use of SRP funds; e) work in collaboration with NHLBI program officers and the PRIDE Coordination Core to facilitate seamless execution of the SRPs. Funds for individually approved projects will differ depending upon scope and depth of the project. SRP funds may not be used for tuition, coursework, or international travel.

SRP expectations from mentees: Mentees will manage their scientific projects and budget. Project updates will occur regularly through monthly conference calls; oral and written reports will be due at mid-year meeting, the second summer session, and at the end of the project. Mentees will: a) submit their work for oral/poster presentation at the consortium-wide PRIDE Annual Meeting held in Bethesda and to national meetings when appropriate; b) provide quarterly, short written progress reports; c) write a full manuscript on their project at the completion of the project.

SRP preparation. The process for SRP proposals will be as follows: a) mentees will identify a research project relating to NHLBI’s mission which will be refined through the 1st summer session brainstorming sessions; b) each mentee will be assigned mentors in coordination with Leadership Committee; c) mentee and mentors discuss research project, identify gaps in knowledge, feasibility, approach, and timeline (projects to be completed in 9-12 months); d) mentees write 5-10 page research proposal (following NIH formatting style). Research proposals to include ALL following sections: 1) Title; 2) Specific Aims (1-2 testable SAs); 3) Knowledge gaps and/or Innovation; 4) Hypothesis and Key Questions to be Addressed; 5) Background; 6) Data Analysis, Methods, Statistics; 7) Mentee Career Goals (must address how SRP will help achieve goals); 8) Statement regarding how implementation of SRP project will prepare them for research independence; 9) Budget and Justification; 10) Bibliography. Research mentors to write letter describing any support (i.e., equipment, resources) and willingness to provide regular mentoring (meet at least 2 times/mo).

SRP Processing and Review.  SRPs are submitted to the PRIDE Coordination Core and then reviewed by assigned reviewers and NHLBI.  Once scored, each site manages distribution of funds to their mentees’ SRPs from their budgets following guidelines established by Steering Committee and NHLBI. SRP budgets must be >$10,800 and <$54,000, including 8% F&A.

WU PRIDE institutional support for SRP. The WU PRIDE program will support SRPs through the following institutional resources: i) presentations focusing specifically on writing effective research proposals and manuscripts; ii) presentations on effective use of available NIH and other study repositories available for SRP projects; iii) presentation on the mechanics of writing an effective SRP; iv) online courses for asynchronous learning on grant writing; v) repository of previously funded K and R grants for mentees to use as templates; and vi) SRP brainstorming session reviews.