Training the next generation of aging and cognitive health researchers

Gerontol Geriatr Educ. 2020 Sep 25;1-17. doi: 10.1080/02701960.2020.1824912. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Dementia is a growing public health concern, and African Americans and Latinos are disproportionately affected compared to White Americans. Improving cognitive health outcomes and reducing disparities requires a diverse, interdisciplinary workforce. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Healthy Brain Research Network (HBRN) Scholars Program trained racially/ethnically and gender-diverse scholars through mentored, collaborative research. Entry, exit, and alumni surveys and a Scholar Spotlight Series queried motivation, goals, acquired skills, accomplishments, program impact, and scholar perspectives. Scholars (n = 41) were majority female (n = 31, 75.6%), graduate students (n = 23, 56.1%), and racially/ethnically diverse (n = 20, 48.7%). Scholars primarily represented Medicine (n = 19, 46.3%) and Public Health (n = 12, 29.3%). Exiting scholars (n = 25) secured faculty/professional positions (n = 9, 36.0%), awards/funding (n = 12, 48.0%), and publications (n = 8, 32.0%). Alumni (n = 10) secured cognitive health-related positions/fellowships (n = 7, 70.0%). The HBRN Scholars Program is an adaptable model for other thematic networks to prepare scholars in collaborative skills critical for effective research and practice.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Scholars program; increasing diversity; mentoring; women.