Obesity Health Disparities (OHD)

The primary focus of the University of Houston Obesity Health Disparities (OHD) Program is to train, mentor, and sustain early career investigators from backgrounds underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral sciences to become highly talented independent investigators in areas of research relevant to the NHLBI. Overweight and obesity directly contribute to risk factors for cardiometabolic multimorbidity (i.e., type 2 diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, chronic kidney disease, and stroke) and can lead to the development of cardiovascular disease independent of other cardiovascular risk factors. National obesity prevalence rates have increased nearly fifty percent over the past 20 years and 19 states and two territories in the U.S. now have adult obesity rates above 35% – a rate that has doubled since 2018.  Numerous reports have called for effective interventions for weight loss and weight management to slow and ultimately reverse current trends. Evidence from leading scientific organizations suggest that advancing this effort requires diversifying the biomedical research workforce with individuals from underrepresented groups most affected by the obesity epidemic. Increasing the diversity of the cardiometabolic and obesity research workforce calls for investment in mentored research training.

OHD PRIDE Summer Institutes will include:

  1. Didactic sessions exposing scholars to cutting-edge, interdisciplinary obesity research across the life course;
  2. Training in a range of research study designs, responsible conduct of research (RCR), grant writing, grants management, and secondary data analysis;
  3. Interactive Works-in-Progress feedback sessions;
  4. Writing Accountability Groups (WAGs) to enhance scientific productivity;
  5. Longitudinal mentoring teams and networking opportunities;
  6. Career coaching and structured research mentoring;
  7. Active Alumni Network.

OHD PRIDE scholars will have the opportunity to apply for Small Research Projects (SRPs) during the first year of the program. SRPs are intended to generate preliminary data as the foundation for developing future NHLBI grant applications. Scholars will receive guidance from their mentoring team to develop and refine their SRP proposals, meet SRP milestones, disseminate study results via scientific presentations, and produce scientific publications.

Scholars in the OHD PRIDE program will be required to:

  1. Participate in a 10-day Summer Institute in year 1 delivered in a phased, hybrid format, and a 5-day Summer Institute in Year 2 of the program;
  2. Attend a 3-day face-to-face Mid-Year meeting;
  3. Attend at the 3-day PRIDE Annual Meeting in Bethesda, MD (typically held in April);
  4. Join the OHD PRIDE Alumni Network after program completion.

The OHD PRIDE program at the University of Houston is part of the NHLBI's Programs for Inclusion and Diversity Among Individuals Engaged in Health Related Research. This is an all-expense paid program for early career faculty and transitioning post-doctorates from diverse backgrounds to enable them to become competitive independent scientists. The scholars will have access to an extensive network of experienced investigators and career coaches to enhance become highly successful independent investigators in the NHLBI focus area of obesity research.