09

Mentored Research Projects

Trainees are required to complete an 8-unit (minimum) mentored research project of relevance to minority health and health disparities. To provide flexibility, trainees can extend this requirement to an extra semester with an additional 4 units of mentored research to complete their projects and manuscript preparations. Priority research areas for the mentored projects are obesity, cardiovascular disease, oral health, asthma, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, cancer, and preterm birth. Health disparities have been documented in these areas, and they are important health priorities for Hawai’i. In addition, we have identified committed mentors in each area of research. Selection and secured commitment of mentors will be guided by the PI, Co-PI, and Program Director and will require approval of an established Research Committee (specific for each trainee) and the CAC. Mentors will be accomplished clinical researchers with the time, expertise and willingness to nurture trainees’ development.

Preparation for mentored projects will begin as soon as trainees enter the MSCR. The PI, Co-PI and Program Director will meet with the trainees, identify the trainees’ research interests, determine whether trainees have identified a mentor, and make suggestions as to appropriate potential mentors. The PI, Co-PI and Program Director will encourage trainees to communicate with several potential mentors as early as possible to discuss research projects and facilitate determination of research focus. By the end of the second semester, all trainees will be matched with mentors.

In the fall semester of Year 01, trainees will write their research proposal during the Clinical Research Protocol Development and Scientific Writing course. The proposal will include a critical review of relevant background literature, study hypotheses and objectives, a discussion of sample size (and sampling methods, if applicable), a discussion of diagnostic criteria and other measurement issues, a timeline, and an analysis plan, including control methods for confounding variables and test methods for potential interactions.

Also by this semester the trainees will have established contact with their Research Mentoring Team. This will consist of 2 members: the trainee’s mentor (committee chair), and an epidemiologist or biostatistician. The team will guide the trainees in finalizing their study designs, and will assist with project implementation. A vital component of the MSCR, however, is self-directed study, and trainees will be expected to complete their research studies independently, following the guidance and oversight of their Research Committees. We expect that by successfully completing the mentored project, including active participation in regular meetings with their Research Committees, trainees will be exposed to invaluable experience through which they will develop the tools to become skilled clinical researchers.