A Sustainable Model for Training HIV/AIDS Researchers to Address Health Disparities
The Cyber Mentors Program, funded by Grant # 1R25MH083635-01 from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), is designed to prepare behavioral and social scientists for successful independent research careers in the area of HIV/AIDS and health disparities. The two-year long mentorship program utilizes state of the art distance learning technologies (e.g., webcasts, online classrooms, etc.) to prepare mentees to submit a successful NIH grant application and to facilitate developing professional relationships to support their research efforts.
The Cyber Mentors program matches early career mentees with volunteer mentors who are leaders in the field of HIV/AIDS research and have a track record of receiving NIH-supported grants. One-on-one mentoring consists of two components:
To develop and implement a career development plan focused on building the strengths of the mentee to conduct independent research, and
To conceptualize, draft, and submit a research application to NIH.
Mentoring occurs via regular interactions over the internet and telephone and during in-person meetings at the annual APA Convention. Mentee/mentor pairs also have the opportunity to apply for up to $5,000 to support research or career development activities (e.g., preliminary data collection, attending additional conferences).
In addition to one-on-one mentoring, mentees participate in a series of online career development seminars that address various research, methodological, and administrative topics relevant to research careers. Monthly large group didactic sessions with expert presenters take place in online classrooms; small group online sessions where mentees focus on applying the concepts and skills learned in the didactic sessions into developing their own proposals take place approximately every other month. Mentees also participate in a mock peer review process where their applications are reviewed and scored. During the mock review process mentees receive written summary statements to which they must formulate a response for the "next" submission of their application.
By the end of the 2-year mentorship period, mentees in the Cyber Mentors program will have developed and begun to implement a career development plan, have a draft of a research proposal to submit to NIH, and have identified an NIH funding mechanism through which they will apply for funding.