Objective: The objectives of this initiative were: to mentor early career minority investigators to develop their research agenda in the areas of childhood obesity; and to increase collaboration in applied, and translational research in childhood obesity arena.
Description: Despite the fact that there is disproportional prevalence of childhood obesity among minority population compared to their majority counterparts, limited federal funding goes to minority investigators compared to their majority counterparts. In an effort to narrow that disparity gap, developing a mentoring program with mentors that have a clear understanding of the obstacles faced by minority scholars is promising. Mentoring offers an opportunity for knowledge exchange and integration, with the mentee investigators sharing their novel ideas and culture, while the mentor provides the technical knowledge, experience, and implementation of a grant project. Mentoring results in a learning partnership that enhances professional growth and development. The reciprocal dynamic relationship between mentor and mentee has the potential to produce a shared vision, healthy outcomes, and resources including funding.
Evaluation: The mentoring program was three pronged that included a pre-conference workshop on designing a research proposal, the formation of self-selected mentor mentee groups, and monthly webinars for the whole group for 12 months. The individual meetings focused on helping the mentees with their grant proposals or publications, where the mentees came up with the projects and the mentors provided advice. The group wide interactive webinars addressed issues that came from the individual group meetings. Eight minority investigators and five mentors participated in this mentoring program. The projects undertaken under the mentorship included, revisions of previously rejected grant proposals, publication projects, and review of grant proposals. A systematic review was completed, extension educational materials were prepared and a dossier for tenure was prepared under the guidance of the mentors.
Conclusions and Implications: The 3-pronged approach of a workshop, tailored mentoring and group webinars has a broad impact for professional development and promoting diversity in our profession.
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