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Key Personnel

Core Director:
Karlene K. Ball, PhD
University Professor and Chair
Department of Psychology

Core Co-Director:
Mona Fouad, MD
Department of Medicine
Director, Division of Preventive Medicine

Pilot Grant Program Director:
Kathryn L. Burgio, PhD
Department of Medicine
Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics, and Palliative Care

Specific Aims

We propose the continuation of the Deep South RCMAR Investigator Development Core (IDC) (Core B) to proceed with building research capacity among investigators from different fields through a multi-component Career Development and Research Training Program focusing on mentoring investigators committed to minority aging and health disparities research. The IDC is designed to train and support researchers in enduring research careers focused on eliminating racial health disparities among older adults at four partnering institutions: Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM), Tuskegee University (TU), the University of Alabama (UA), and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). This unique collaboration between institutions that vary greatly in terms of their research emphasis, research infrastructure, and faculty backgrounds is designed to substantially increase the pool of potential applicants to the training program. In addition, each of the partnering institutions brings unique strengths to the overall training experience. The IDC is a key component of the overall Deep South RCMAR, focusing on health conditions that are particularly prevalent among older African Americans in our region, and for which health disparities have been identified. We will continue to engage early career (junior faculty) or transitional scientists who are moving from leadership, service or clinical roles, or expanding the focus of their research to minority aging and health disparities. The IDC Program has 3 major components:

  • Training Program - The formal Health Disparities Research Training Program (HDRTP) provides training in the basic tools of social behavioral, clinical and outcomes research (including biostatistics, epidemiology, bioethics, behavioral interventions, health outcomes and services, and policy research) and their applicability to minority aging research. This two-year training program is integrated with programs in other disciplines (e.g., cancer, cardiovascular, diabetes) to maximize resources and facilitate “team science.” The training program is complemented and reinforced by provision of a mentored research experience focusing on career development.
  • Pilot Grant Program – This program offers funding, mentoring, and guidance for the development and implementation of small-scale studies with the long-range goal of producing competitive research projects that will advance the science in minority aging and health disparities.
  • Diversity Supplements – Core investigators will provide mentoring and guidance for one or two Scholars each year to seek diversity supplement funding through the infrastructure established by the parent grant to assist Scholars in establishing their independent research in minority aging and health disparities.
The specific aims of the IDC Core are to:

  1. Build research capacity and increase the diversity of the workforce through the education of a diverse group of Faculty Scholars. The expertise and knowledge of the RCMAR Scholars with respect to minority aging and health disparities research will be expanded through the Health Disparities Research Training Program, emphasizing the content area, methods, and theory of relevant scientific disciplines.
  2. Build research capacity through mentoring. The three program components will:
    1. Provide opportunities for RCMAR Scholars to work on multidisciplinary teams, exposing them not only to the methodologies, but also the theories of other scientific disciplines pertinent to the study of age-related phenomena and health disparities.
    2. Work toward the development of independent careers in minority aging and health disparities research through individualized mentorship of each RCMAR Scholar by a senior investigator or a mentorship team that includes a senior investigator.
    3. Promote career development by requiring RCMAR Scholars to present and publish their research findings in collaboration with their mentor(s).
  3. Build research capacity through research funding. The IDC will:
    1. Facilitate the development and execution of pilot studies that contribute to the overall mission of the RCMAR and provide the foundation for the Scholars' future grant applications.
    2. Foster the submission of competitive research projects focusing on minority aging and health disparities, including Diversity Supplements, NIH R01s, K-awards, VA MERIT awards, and private sector grants.
To ensure the success of the Career Development and Research Training Program, we will draw from a large pool of well-established mentors, who offer many opportunities for RCMAR Scholars to participate in large, collaborative, multidisciplinary research programs. We will carefully evaluate the program through process, impact, and outcome evaluations.

Other Personnel

  • John C. Higginbotham, UA IDC Investlgator
  • Patricia Sawyer, PhD, UAB Research Advisor
  • Ann Smith, MA, UAB Training Manager
  • Roberta Troy, PhD, Tuskegee IDC Investigator
Mailing Address:

University of Alabama at Birmingham
Center for Aging
CH19 201
1720 2nd Ave S
Birmingham, AL 35294-2041