CURES Career Enhancement Program

The CURES Career Enhancement program works in close association with the other CURES components to:

  • Assist CURES researchers in achieving success in environmental research relevant to the health of urban communities. This includes the planning, conducting and publishing of research and obtaining extramural funding, especially from NIEHS.
  • Provide opportunities for researchers to develop skills in working effectively with interdisciplinary teams of scientists and engaging with members of our urban community.
  • Assist CURES researchers in developing communication skills for effective dissemination of findings to diverse audiences, including healthcare professionals, policymakers, and community members.
  • Promote participation of all CURES researchers in center-sponsored workshops, thematic symposia, seminars, and training opportunities.
  • Work to increase the diversity of CURES students and trainees (next-generation EHS scientists) by promoting diversity/inclusion awareness and activities in the Center.

Career Enhancement Activities

  • Mentor Early-Stage Investigators (ESIs). The Career Enhancement Program participates in the establishment and management of mentoring teams tailored to the interests and specific needs of individual investigators. Mentoring teams include CURES researchers and leaders from the various RIGS and Cores.
  • Foster effective grant writing and funding success.  In collaboration with the Translational Research Support Core, the development of proposals and evaluation of internal and external reviews follows a formal iterative process of continual feedback and discussion with applicants.  This process includes feedback in the grant conceptualization stage, full critiques of complete drafts, and evaluation of responses to summary statements and critiques of revised grants. 
  • Collaborate with the Community Engagement Core and Community Advisory Board to help CURES scientists to improve engagement with the community and develop community-informed research programs. ESIs are encouraged to present at Community Engagement Core-sponsored Environmental Health Forums (e.g., "EH Chats").
  • Develop and maintain interactions with the various diversity-related STEM training programs on campus to cultivate a “Diverse Professional Pipeline” of EHS researchers  consistent with NIEHS priorities


Todd Leff, Ph.D. is associate dean for Academic Affairs at the Wayne State University Graduate School, associate professor of Pathology, and director of the Molecular Pathology of Human Disease Ph.D. program at the School of Medicine. At the Graduate School, Dr. Leff has a leadership role in developing and delivering professional development programs, including grant writing workshops for postdoctoral fellows and early-stage investigators. He has extensive experience mentoring Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows and has participated in the Graduate School’s NIH-funded ReBUILDetroit program to engage underserved minority students in STEM fields and promote their advancement to graduate studies. Dr. Leff is also an active member of the CURES Environment and Metabolic Health Research Interest Group. His research program has been funded by NIH, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Heart Association and is focused on metabolic disease, including recent studies on the metabolic effects of lead and arsenic exposure, which were supported by CURES pilot project grants.

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Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors