Future Faculty of Cardiovascular Sciences (FOCUS)

The specific objectives of the UC San Diego Future Faculty of Cardiovascular Sciences (FOCUS) program are to enhance the academic skills and professional development of early career academics in cardiovascular sciences and their success in obtaining NIH or equivalent funding. Early career junior faculty and postdoctoral fellows transitioning to a faculty position who will broaden the demographics of the biomedical workforce in the areas of heart, lung, blood and sleep and have expertise in cardiovascular sciences, aligned with those of UC San Diego research mentors, will maximally benefit from the program. Our research mentors are UC San Diego faculty who have a variety of expertise in cardiovascular research including vascular cell biology, caveolae and caveolins, cell matrix and cell-cell adhesion, signaling in heart failure, mechanisms of cardiac disease and development, stem cells, heart development and regeneration, transcription factors, mitochondria and heart failure, structure of cardiac muscle, electrical and mechanical function of the heart, mechanobiology and computational modeling of the heart, cell survival and growth, ischemia and reperfusion, cardiac aging, genetic-basis of cardiac disease, hemodynamics and inflammation in vascular disease, cardioprotection, etiologies and treatment of congenital heart diseases, and more. 

Early career academics, including junior faculty and transitioning postdoctoral fellows who have yet to receive an independent NIH research award (R01 type) or similar award, are eligible to apply. In addition to applicants from national pools, we especially encourage applications from within the University of California (UC) President's Postdoctoral Fellowship Program (PPFP), UC Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellowship Program (CPFP), the ​Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) Program, and the national network of NIH-supported Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award (IRACDA) programs.

FOCUS will employ evidence-based strategies to enhance professional development and effective mentorship of participants by: 1) developing a Faculty Research and Career Advancement Plan (RCAP) to help them identify short- and long-term research and career goals, 2) engaging in effective mentorship with a team consisting of a UC San Diego research faculty mentor, a UC San Diego career underrepresented faculty mentor, and a mentor from the participant’s home institution, and 3) improving knowledge and skills in specific professional development areas important for research success.

FOCUS will enhance self-efficacy in research knowledge and success in obtaining NIH or equivalent grant funding by immersing participants in effective strategies to develop research program plans, develop skills in writing effective grant proposals and manuscripts, and providing important tips on navigating pathways for academic advancement, as well as submission and review of both journal articles and grants. All participants will have an opportunity to develop a research and grant plan with the goal of using seed funds from small research project (SRP) pilot programs that can accelerate the course towards successful production and submission of an NIH or equivalent grant.

Scholars in the program will be required to:

  1. Actively participate in the Grant Writing Course, which will tentatively start remotely prior to the in-person Summer Institute I with weekly assignments due in June.
  1. Participate in a one-week, in-person Summer Institute at UC San Diego. Summer Institute I includes a structured curriculum with training in grant writing, professional development, mentorship, and building mentoring teams, as well as cardiovascular sciences seminars and instruction in methodologies.
  2. Attend a mid-year meeting (in-person or virtual; 2-3 days) between summers. The Mid-Year Meeting includes an NIH-styled mock study section for a grant review, professional development training, and networking sessions.
  3. Participate in a second in-person Summer Institute at UC San Diego (up to a week). Summer Institute II includes a grant review in an NIH styled mock study section, leadership, methodologies, and mentoring training, and networking sessions.
  4. Attend a 3-day PRIDE Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.
  5. Write a small research project proposal and an NIH or equivalent grant proposal.