At a planning meeting last year College of Public Health and Health Professions leaders set a goal of increasing the number of training grants awarded to the college.
Training grants support each part of our college’s tri-fold mission of education, research and service. Advanced training programs enhance the education we offer students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty. Training grants also strengthen our graduate research programs, which helps us attract the best students and faculty. Their research may solve important health problems. In addition, the continuing education for professionals offered through training programs helps improve the quality of the workforce that serves our communities.
Since 2004, the college has been home to two National Institutes of Health-funded training grant programs for pre-doctoral students interested in research careers. Dr. Michael Marsiske, an associate professor in the department of clinical and health psychology, directs the training grant focused on physical, cognitive and mental health in older adults. Dr. Krista Vandenborne, chair of the department of physical therapy and associate dean for research and planning, leads a training grant on rehabilitation and neuromuscular plasticity. Dr. Vandenborne also directs a NIH-funded training program for post-doctoral researchers who are starting their professional research careers. All three programs have helped produce outstanding scientists.
I am pleased to report that since the college leaders resolved to increase the number of training grants, we have had two major successes. Dr. Linda Cottler, chair of the department of epidemiology, received a National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty International Center grant to support on-site workshops for behavioral health workers in India and provide 12 fellowships for Indian professionals who will train in the United States. Dr. Mary Peoples-Sheps, senior associate dean for public health, was awarded a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant to establish the Rural South Public Health Training Center, which offers free, online continuing education to Florida public health workers and internship opportunities for master’s in public health students. Both training grant programs offer exciting new opportunities for students, health professionals and researchers.
Our faculty members continue to submit applications for new training grants and we are hopeful these applications will also be successful. The college’s commitment to training grants makes us unique among our peer colleges and we recognize the impact of these grants extends beyond university walls to improve the health of individuals and communities in our state, nation and the world.