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Mentorship Pods for Trainees

The CanPREP operating model includes a significant research training and capacity building component. Our aim is to create, through an academically-rigorous and policy-relevant training program, a cadre of highly-qualified research professionals. Trainees will acquire diverse methodological and conceptual skills of specific importance to pandemic preparedness, but which are also generally applicable to other public health hazards. These highly-transferable skills will include public engagement strategies, knowledge and translation strategies, end-user engagement, and conceptual development of ethical principles.

Our team is structurally organized to provide innovative team-based "mentorship pods" for trainees. Each trainee will be affiliated with a mentorship pod. Each pod will consist of senior academics, junior academics, post-doctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students, collaborators/partners, and end-users. Opportunities for research will occur in both academia and via placements in collaborator/end-user organizations. Clearly, this type of structure for a research training program would not be possible without Team Grant funding.

As indicated in the CanPREP conceptual framework, we propose a total of 12 trainee positions. For each of the three thematic areas, the contingent of trainees will include one post-doctoral fellow, one doctoral student, one Master’s student, and one summer student. (We have additionally budgeted for supporting funds for three new investigators.)

The University of Toronto (U of T) is committed to providing a learning experience that benefits from both a scale almost unparalleled in North America and from the close-knit learning communities made possible through its college system and academic divisions. The U of T library network comprises more than 50 libraries with over 15 million holdings and is considered one of the top four research libraries in North America. The collection contains several extensive book and journal holdings relevant to bioethics; taken together, it is the largest collection of bioethics resources in Canada.

CanPREP trainees will also benefit from valuable educational and networking opportunities through various U of T academic centres and research institutes, including the Munk Centre for International Studies, the Centre for Ethics, the Centre for International Health, the Centre for Global Health Research (at St. Michael’s Hospital), and the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation (at the University Health Network).

The Joint Centre for Bioethics (JCB) is a partnership between the U of T and 16 affiliated healthcare organizations. The JCB is a network of over 180 multidisciplinary professionals seeking to improve health care standards at the local, provincial, national, and international levels. The JCB is a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre in Bioethics.

At the JCB, CanPREP trainees will enjoy access to office work space, computers, office supplies, telephone/fax/photocopier/printing services, and library resources. The Philippa Harris Bioethics Library, housed in the JCB, contains over 250 books, current subscriptions to the leading bioethics journals, and an extensive collection of scholarly articles. The JCB supports an electronic listserv to facilitate communication among students, faculty, and staff. The JCB website provides information regarding bioethics at the U of T and beyond.

Trainees will further benefit from participation in the broad range of academic activities sponsored by the JCB. Three annual endowed lectures bring world-renowned scholars to the U of T campus to speak on current issues in bioethics. Trainees will benefit from attendance at the weekly Bioethics Seminar Series and from access to expertise in established research networks at the JCB covering a variety of areas of bioethics research.

Training and research capacity building represents a key element of the CanPREP proposal. Fully one-third of the total operating budget is devoted to training and capacity building activities. We believe the Collaboratory environment, as previously described, will provide superior educational and mentoring opportunities for trainees at all levels, including new investigators, post-doctoral fellows, graduate students (both doctoral and master’s), and undergraduate summer students.

The CanPREP Collaboratory has been designed to foster genuine inter-disciplinary and innovative learning environments. The Collaboratory will fully exploit new information technologies to facilitate communication and exchange between trainees and team leaders and also among the trainees themselves. We believe the Collaboratory will promote the meaningful integration of our community partners/collaborators in the training program.

Indeed, through the use of e-technologies (e.g., virtual whiteboards, data-conferencing, etc), the Collaboratory will afford significant opportunities for trainees to collaborate with and learn from the end-users of research such as health policy makers, hospital administrators, and clinicians. The Collaboratory environment facilitates and promotes team interaction and integration (e.g., via video-conferencing, data-conferencing, web-streaming, etc) and therefore will produce results more rapidly and more efficiently than otherwise would be the case if the various components of our research program were to be funded as a series of separate operating grants.

For each of the three key ethical issues under study―risk communication, duty to care, and priority setting―the CanPREP program will fund one post-doctoral fellow, one doctoral student, one Master’s student, and one summer student. Supervision of trainees will be equally distributed among members of the team, including investigators, collaborators, and end-users.

We believe the CanPREP Collaboratory provides a significantly-enhanced training environment in order to develop the next generation of Canadian pandemic influenza researchers.

 
JCBUniversity of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics
88 College Street
Toronto, ON  M5G 1L4
CANADA
Funded by the
Canadian Institutes of Health Research