The objective of the Research Career Development Core (RCDC) is to identify highly promising early-stage investigators (junior faculty) and to provide support promoting their development as independent investigators and leaders in aging research. The RCDC seeks to provide these investigators, designated as “Pepper Scholars”, with the knowledge and skills to conduct biological, translational, and clinical studies of multifactorial geriatric health conditions and to obtain subsequent funding from a broad range of sources. The outcomes and career advancement goals for Pepper Scholars include:
- publication of research results in high-impact journals;
- success in obtaining independent funding, both to support further career development (e.g. K08 and K23 awards) and to support specific projects (e.g. R21 and R01 awards);
- development of leadership skills necessary to manage research teams and to become successful mentors themselves.
The specific goals of the core are:
- to identify highly promising junior faculty with a strong interest in aging research as Pepper Scholars, with priority given to faculty whose research focuses on multifactorial geriatric health conditions;
- to promote the development of these Pepper Scholars as independent investigators through the provision of salary, project, infrastructure/technical, and other career development support;
- to provide Pepper Scholars with priority access to the Resource Cores’ expertise and services for the design, conduct, and analysis of studies addressing multifactorial geriatric health conditions;
- to provide mentorship in aging to Pepper Scholars selected from disciplines outside of geriatrics;
- to provide oversight of research and career development progress for Pepper Scholars and to provide support for subsequent grant development;
- to identify a group of junior faculty affiliates who receive more limited support in order to promote their development as potential future Pepper Scholars and to support additional career development and research applications;
- to provide opportunities for participation in local and national research and career development workshops and seminars with a focus on aging research and in relevant networking and advocacy initiatives.
The provision of resources and mentorship to promising early-stage investigators will promote the development of the next generation of leaders in aging research whose research programs will address the development, testing and implementation of innovative interventions to maintain and restore independence in older persons.