AHRQ Post Doctoral Fellowship (T32)

The AHRQ Post Doctoral Fellowship Program (National Research Service Award,  #5T32HS000011-35) in the Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research in the School of Public Health at Brown University is rooted in the premise that a multi-level, multi-disciplinary approach is the most appropriate one to adopt in studying how health services are delivered to meet the needs of individuals with chronic illness. In this program clinician and non-clinician scientists not only work together on funded projects, they also teach each other about the clinical aspects of the population and the research methods necessary to study it systematically. Further, special care is taken to ensure a good fit between the needs of each trainee and the interests, available resources, and capabilities of his or her faculty mentor.

In recent years the program has increased its emphasis on long-term care, pharmaco-epidemiology, and chronic disease management, and has sharpened its methodological focus. There are numerous opportunities for ongoing collaboration with investigators in other Centers and Departments and at the Veteran’s Administration Health Service Research Program.  The program also now covers geriatric pharmaco-epidemiology and organizational factors influencing the delivery of healthcare.  Furthermore, collaborations with research centers focusing on behavioral medicine and social epidemiology offer additional opportunities for postdoctoral fellows in this program.

  • to teach health services research methods as well as content material relevant to gerontology, long-term care,  and chronic disease management;
  • to train both clinician and non-clinician researchers;
  • to give trainees didactic as well as "hands-on" supervised experience in health services research.

Generally speaking, this is a two-year program. Since postdoctoral fellows arrive with different backgrounds and career goals, there is both a general curriculum, which all trainees must follow, and a trainee-specific curriculum. The general curriculum includes weekly, informal meetings with the program director, bi-weekly seminars in epidemiological or health services research methods, and monthly seminars on clinical or health policy issues in geriatrics delivered by leaders in the field. The trainee-specific curriculum consists of participation in a "major" and a "minor" research project as well as coursework in either the graduate program in epidemiology, biostatistics, health services research, evidence based medicine or in other summer institute programs in research methods.

Two tracks exist to accommodate differences in background:

  • For the physician or doctorally prepared clinician who comes without substantial prior research training, enrollment in a Masters degree in Epidemiology or Clinical and Translational research the Master of Public Health is desirable.  Over the two years of the fellowship, the physician fellow completes the Masters degree in concert with the other fellowship activities. He or she also continues seeing patients one half-day each week. Clinical activities are developed in conjunction with faculty in an affiliated hospital.
  • For the non-physician, formal coursework is usually limited to specialty courses that offer further methodological expertise.

At the beginning of each quarter throughout the fellowship, each fellow meets with his or her mentor and the program director. Goals for the coming three months are set and at each subsequent quarterly review, these are reviewed to determine whether they have been met and strategies for overcoming any barriers to achieving goals are implemented.

During the second year, major project activities continue, but fellows focus on preparing manuscripts for publication and presentations for national meetings. During the second year fellows participate in mentors’ grant proposals, write their own small grant proposal and work on securing a research and/or academic position. Before the end of the second year, fellows present their research at both a departmental seminar and a fellows' seminar.

Evaluation of fellows is largely outcome-oriented. Given the close association with faculty, the work of all fellows is frequently reviewed and critiqued, from the specification of research questions to the writing of a manuscript. More proximate opportunities for observing fellows’ performance include presentations at research seminars and national meetings and in their competition for research positions following completion of the program. Acceptance of articles for publication is another indicator of success. The ultimate measure of success is whether fellows become independently funded researchers; to date, more than 60 percent of all fellows who have completed the program have attained that goal.

For physicians, an additional outcome measure is completion of the Master’s degree.