What is ASPIRE?
ASPIRE is an NIH/NIGMS-funded IRACDA training program for postdoctoral scholars. “The purpose of the IRACDA program is to develop a diverse group of highly trained scientists to address the nation’s biomedical research needs. The program promotes consortia between research-intensive institutions (RII) and partner institutions that have a historical mission and a demonstrated commitment to providing training, encouragement and assistance to students from groups underrepresented in the biomedical research enterprise of the nation. The IRACDA program combines a traditional mentored postdoctoral research experience with an opportunity to develop academic skills, including teaching, through workshops and mentored teaching assignments at a partner institution. The program is expected to facilitate the progress of postdoctoral candidates toward research and teaching careers in academia. Other goals are to provide a resource to motivate the next generation of scientists at partner institutions and to promote linkages between RIIs and partner institutions that can lead to further collaborations in research and teaching.”

What are the distinguishing features of this program compared with traditional postdoctoral support?
ASPIRE is a joint effort between Johns Hopkins University and two partnering, minority-serving institutions, Morgan State University and Coppin State University (all co-located within 5 miles of each other). 75% of the scholar’s effort has a traditional research focus, while 25% effort will involve pedagogical training in the JHU Teaching Academy & the Morgan Institute for Strategic Teaching at MSU and practicum training in teaching at MSU or CSU.

What are the distinguishing features of this program compared with other programs around the country?
Engineering is poised to become a leading force in the biomedical sciences, and in the medicine and health care of the 21st century. It infuses biomedicine with quantitative methodologies and technical innovations, and creates a milieu fertile for disruptive technologies. By addressing global health needs and the diagnosis and treatment of disease, engineering in medicine and healthcare is expected to have a broad societal impact. The research project, conducted at JHU, will fall within the broad scope of biomedical engineering and be supervised by a pair of faculty, one from the Whiting School of Engineering and the other from a clinical department in the School of Medicine.

When did the ASPIRE program launch?
ASPIRE began on September 1, 2018.

What are the necessary qualifications of the scholars?
The applicant must have received a PhD or MD/PhD in engineering, computer science, biophysics, chemistry, molecular/cellular physiology, neuroscience, genetics or related fields within 2 years prior to the start of the appointment. An MD degree may also qualify, provided that the applicant has a previous degree in engineering. The applicant must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. They  must have an interest in educating underrepresented minorities. Underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, and women are strongly encouraged to apply.

When can individuals apply?
Applications for this cycle are not currently being accepted; please check back in Winter 2023.

When do fellowships begin?
The fifth cohort of scholars can begin June 1, 2023.

What will be the application process?
Applicants will need to submit a CV, personal statements that describes their career goals and past and future interest in research and teaching, graduate school transcript, two letters of recommendation (preferably one from PhD advisor), and name of a third reference. Applicants will be asked to describe their research area of interest, and names of up to 3 JHU engineering core faculty they would like to work with. If interest is expressed by the faculty member and a clinical collaborator, a Zoom interview will be scheduled to discuss potential research projects. Upon acceptance and arrival, applicants will begin work directly in the sponsoring lab(s).

Who will serve as the research sponsors for the scholars?
The primary sponsor will be an engineering faculty member from a Whiting School of Engineering department. The research project must be in the area of biomedical engineering and involve a clinical collaborator who can be any faculty member in the School of Medicine. The clinical collaborator must have a strong working relationship with the primary sponsor, and will serve as a secondary sponsor of the scholar.

What will be the teaching duties and obligations of the scholar?
In Year 1 the scholar will complete pedagogical training at JHU and MSU. Scholars will meet with participating faculty at MSU and CSU to learn about teaching opportunities and identify a good match given his/her interests and expertise. In Year 2 the scholar will complete teaching modules mentored by faculty at MSU and CSU. In Year 3 the scholar will develop course modules or teach courses independently at MSU or CSU.

Questions? Please email : [email protected]