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Implementation Science Training at Yale Boosted by NIH Training Grant to Drs. Donna Spiegelman and Eric Velazquez

June 29, 2021
by Jazmin Lopez

Donna Spiegelman, ScD, founding Director of Yale’s Center for Methods in Implementation and Prevention Science (CMIPS), and Eric Velazquez, MD, section chief for Cardiovascular Medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, were recently awarded a National Institutes of Health Training Grant in Implementation Science Research and Methods (T32). The award will play a significant role in building a critical mass of implementation science methods scholarship at Yale and developing the next generation of implementation scientists by training at least 9 pre- and postdoctoral researchers over the next five years.

While the field of implementation science has seen tremendous growth, there remains a lack of rigorous training opportunities for young investigators, motivating Drs. Spiegelman and Velazquez to launch this innovative T32 program dedicated to implementation science training to promote heart, lung, blood, and sleep health and improve the clinical practice of related disorders. As Dr. Velazquez explained, the grant offers a “unique opportunity . . . to leverage the expertise of faculty in cardiovascular medicine and statistical methodologies.” The award from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) provides almost $2 million in funding over five years and aims to take full advantage of the resources at the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH) and the Yale School of Medicine (YSM).

According to YSPH Dean Sten Vermund, the training program came about because the two schools met in a “highly synergistic and coordinated way.” “The T32 grant,” he said, “is symbolic of that commitment to partner in one more way, beyond the research, in mentoring a new cadre of trainees who can be the future leaders in implementation science.”

The award will further strengthen the Implementation Science (IS) Pathway in the PhD and Master’s in Biostatistics degrees, now in its second year. The PhD IS Pathway, initiated by CMIPS, exposes students to rigorous training in advanced implementation science methods. The MS IS Pathway provides students the opportunity to develop methodological expertise in statistics as applied specifically to public health. Both programs are the first and only of their kind. Dean Vermund emphasized that this T32 “offers trainees concrete support beyond that which YSPH has to offer” and “enables us to grow our doctoral program by inviting students who might not have had the opportunity to study at Yale otherwise.”

CMIPS Director Spiegelman noted that “the training grant is a critical step for CMIPS as it focuses on developing innovative methods and training future implementation scientists focused on methodology. Students will learn to collaborate with stakeholders, patients, caregivers, and public health professionals with the goal of promoting the uptake of evidence-based findings in practice and policy.” Trainees will be integrated with an NHLBI-supported K12 program, Yale Scholars in Implementation Science, led by Dr. Mona Sharifi, and experience intense engagement with the broader New Haven community.

The first three trainees, Zach Frere, Claudia Mastrogiacomo, and Alicia Williams—all new PhD students enrolled in the Implementation and Prevention Science Methods Pathway—will begin this fall. Under the grant, Ms. Mastrogiacomo hopes to “get not only rigorous training in statistical methods and theory typical of a biostatistics degree, but also strong interdisciplinary training that will help me collaborate across fields.” “I think it's a really unique opportunity and am excited to be a part of this growing area of research,” she added.

The Yale T32 in implementation science aligns with a recent surge in interest in the topic across all of health science at Yale and reflects CMIPS’ leadership in addressing implementation gaps and improving health outcomes worldwide.

If you are interested in a PhD focusing on quantitative methods for implementation science, or you currently hold a doctoral-level degree in a public health or clinical field and would like research support and master’s-level training in implementation science, please visit the IS Pathway webpage and write to William Tootle at william.tootlejr@yale.edu if you have any questions.

Submitted by William Tootle on June 29, 2021