Training, Capacity Development and Pilot Core (TCDPC):
This core will provide scientific direction and support for the pilot projects and training aspects of the Research Hub, supported by the Administrative and Leadership Core. We recognize that there is a risk of the activities of this core becoming ancillary to the work of the two major projects and other components, so for this reason we propose a separate core of equal importance to ensure that there is sufficient academic and intellectual leadership and stewardship of activities. This is not to imply the work will be done in silos and the task of the TCDPC will be to ensure that pilot projects and broader capacity development will be appropriately integrated into the work of the Hub.
We propose a tiered set of pilot projects to help develop networks and to provide opportunities for new researchers at different phases in the transition from trainee to PI, and help produce a pipeline of new researchers. Mentored postdoctoral fellowships (PDFs) of 1-year duration will be aimed at providing opportunities for new researchers to work independently on projects that are directly related to our research program using our Hub’s resources as a platform. Though mentored, the PDF will be structured to allow fellows to show initiative in research question development and research direction and to help establish themselves as independent researchers. Seed pilot projects of 1-year duration will provide groups the resources and opportunities to identify a self-directed project related to the goals of the Hub, do preliminary research, and prepare a comprehensive research funding proposal. These seed projects must be clearly linked to the Hub and use the opportunities that the Hub provides. They would be encouraged to identify and use additional data sets complementing the resources that the hub provides. Seed projects are expected to produce some substantive research output and/or appropriate artifact, and to prepare a research proposal for submission for a full pilot project. Full pilot projects will be 18-month projects with substantive funding to allow a new topic directly relevant to the Hub’s theme to be explored. We propose an inclusive and extensive program for soliciting applications and although – with some exceptions – seed project recipients will be expected to apply for the pilot projects, all applications will be treated in the same way through a competitive process subject to external, independent review.
In addition to the development of early career researchers through the pilot projects, the core will be responsible for capacity development in identifying and organizing needed training activities, and developing a mentoring program. We have also identified two specific areas that need development within the Hub: (a) We will be producing tools that other stake-holders will use. This requires building capacity in participatory design and quality software development. (b) We will also seek our incubation strategies for potential spin-off commercialization.