The goals of the program are to train predoctoral and postdoctoral researchers who are well-qualified to work within their disciplines but who are also able to incorporate methods and approaches from other fields relevant to understanding physical and mental health changes with aging.
Predoctoral trainees must achieve mastery of the knowledge, methods, and theory of their home discipline (sociology, psychology, biology/neuroscience, preventive medicine or gerontology) through course work and research training; postdoctoral and predoctoral trainees are expected to gain understanding of the knowledge, methods, and theory of other disciplines relevant to their research focus.
Trainees in this program are exposed to additional disciplines as they participate in the weekly Multidisciplinary Research Colloquium in Aging, take multidisciplinary courses relevant to health and aging, learn analytic approaches for studying individual age changes from a number of disciplines, take courses on substantive aspects of aging outside their original discipline, and work with preceptors on research projects.
A central emphasis of this program, and one which is perhaps unique to the program, is to provide training in multidisciplinary aspects of research on aging. Our program is designed to compel both trainees and Preceptors to examine the spectrum of cross-disciplinary investigations in gerontology, from neurobiology to population processes to public policy, in terms of the broader societal and scientific contexts of their research activities. We have developed four cross-cutting research areas that will be focal points in our training program for the current five year period:
- Cognitive Change and Mental and Emotional Well-being
- Physical Change with Age
- Role of Social, Contextual, Environmental, and Institutional Factors in Mental and Physical Change with Age
- The Biological Paths Promoting or Delaying Age Changes
Training is organized around five activities:
- Research apprenticeship in the projects or laboratories of faculty preceptors conducting research on aging;
- Presenting results based on their research in presentations at scientific meetings, publications, and research proposals to launch trainees into a high early career trajectory in research on aging;
- Formal course training in multidisciplinary approaches and research skills relevant to research on aging;
- For predoctoral trainees, completing the courses and examinations required by participating academic units for the Ph.D. degree; and
- Summer courses and workshops to expand knowledge of data and methods.