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 research programs of underrepresented early career academics in cardiovascular sciences and success in obtaining NIH or equivalent funding. Underrepresented early career junior faculty and transitioning postdoctoral fellows who have cardiovascular scientific expertise, aligned with those of our research mentors, will maximally benefit from the program. Our research faculty mentors 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 others. 

Early career academics including junior faculty and transitioning postdoctoral fellows that 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) system’s UC President’s and Chancellor’s Fellowship Programs 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 mentees identify short and long term research and career goals, 2) engaging mentees in effective mentorship with a team consisting of a UCSD research faculty mentor, a UCSD career underrepresented faculty mentor, and a mentor from the trainee’s home institution and 3) improving mentees 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 trainees will 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. Year 1, participate in a 2-week Summer Institute at UC San Diego that includes a structured curriculum with training in grant writing, professional development, mentorship, building mentoring teams, cardiovascular sciences seminars, and instruction in methodologies
  2. Attend a 2 day mid-year meeting between summers that includes grant preparation, research proposals, and research and career development plans
  3. Year 2, participate in a 1 week Summer Institute at UC San Diego that includes a grant review in a NIH styled mock study section, leadership training, methodologies, and mentoring
  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