CURES Career Enhancement Program



John Hannigan, PhD. Professor of Obstetrics and of Psychology, member of the Reproductive Sciences program, and former Deputy Director of the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute for Child and Family Development. He has been a Co-Leader since 2015.


Todd Leff, PhD. Associate Professor of Pathology, Director of the Molecular Pathology of Human Disease doctoral program, and Associate Dean of the Graduate School where he oversees academic affairs and has a leadership role in the graduate school's professional development program. He was named Co-Leader in 2020.

The goal of the CURES Career Enhancement Program is to nurture the next generation of leaders in the environmental health sciences. The program is well aligned with the 2018-2023 NIEHS Strategic Plan Theme 3 to cultivate a "professional pipeline," build greater workforce diversity, and promote skills in collaborative, interdisciplinary team science to address increasingly complex urban environmental health issues. Career Enhancement helps mentor Early-Stage Investigators (ESIs) and attract established mid-career and senior investigators to environmental health research, promoting new affiliations among investigators in basic and clinical sciences.

Career Enhancement functions as a deeply integrated component of the Center's networked structure, intimately collaborating with the Pilot Project Program, the IHSFC, the CEC, and the Research Interest Group (RIG) leaders to promote innovative multidisciplinary research and development of productive interactions between researchers and community members.

The Specific Aims of Career Enhancement, in cooperation with other CURES components, are to:

· Assist CURES researchers in achieving benchmarks of success in environmental research relevant to the health of urban communities, including generating high-impact publications and obtaining extramural funding, especially from NIEHS.

· Provide opportunities for researchers to develop skills in working effectively with, and leading, multi/inter/trans-disciplinary teams of scientists, and with members of our urban community.

· Provide opportunities for CURES researchers at all levels to improve their communication skills for effective dissemination of findings to other researchers, health care professionals, policy makers, and most importantly, community members.

· Promote diversity/inclusion awareness and activities within the CURES network, and work to increase diversity of students and trainees in EHS.

The goals of Program activities are designed to help CURES investigators 1) plan, conduct and publish impactful research; 2) seek and obtain extramural NIEHS funding; 3) engage effectively with the urban community; 4) disseminate findings to diverse audiences; and 5) be "good citizens" of the Center by participating in CURES workshops, thematic symposia, seminars, and training opportunities.

CURES Career Enhancement Program activities include:

· Mentoring is distributed across CURES programs. Program Co-Leaders help ESIs and investigators new to environmental health research form appropriate mentoring teams that include CURES researchers and Leaders from the various RIGS and Cores.

· The Program hosts innovative annual multi-center ESI-oriented Virtual Workshops with other EHSCCs in the Midwest / Great Lakes region with whom we share geography, research interests, and existing collaborations. The cross-center, ESI career-oriented workshops include invited speakers and research talks and address topics important to ESIs (e.g., interdisciplinary collaboration, "grantsmanship," communication skills, and time and lab management.)

· The Program, in close collaboration with the IHSFC, promotes successful "Grantsmanship" in frequent "one-on-one" meetings with ESIs and their mentoring teams during all phases of research conceptualization, pilot work (especially through the CURES Pilot Grant Program), grant writing and revision/resubmission. We facilitate pre-submission review and offer mock-study-section reviews as needed.

· The Program assists CURES researchers at all levels to develop skills necessary for effective Communication and Knowledge Dissemination to a wide range of audiences, particularly lay presentations to the community. This is in collaboration with the CEC and CAB. These skills aid investigators at all career sages to improve engagement with the community and develop community-informed research programs. ESIs are encouraged to present at CEC-sponsored Environmental Health Forums (e.g., "EH Chats").

· The Program helps cultivate a Diverse "Professional Pipeline" consistent with priorities throughout CURES. We aim to promote ESI interactions with the wide variety of STEM diversity/inclusion training programs active at WSU and across Detroit, attracting diverse, "next-gen" scientists to EHS research.

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Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors