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In an era of complex, multi-institutional, team-based science, there is little guidance for the successful creation of effective, collaborative, multisite training programs.
We designed, implemented, and evaluated a multi-institutional Tobacco Regulatory Science (TRS) fellowship representing a scalable program that may be customized for other research areas.
Using a mixed-methods approach, we analyzed program evaluations from trainees enrolled in the first 7 years of the American Heart Association (AHA) Tobacco Regulation and Addiction Center (A-TRAC) fellowship (2014–2021). We also reported the program outcomes, including published TRS manuscripts, independent grant funding, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Docket comments submitted on TRS topics, TRS oral and poster presentations, research awards, and promotions in the TRS field.
Thirty-five unique trainees (49% [n = 17] female, 29% [n = 10] Black) from eight institutions within the A-TRAC network participated in the fellowship since its inception. The trainees reported 74 TRS publications, 78 TRS oral or poster presentations, 25 FDA Docket comment submissions, and 13 funded grant awards. Participant evaluations indicated six areas of programmatic strength: 1) blended instruction medium with webinars and in-person meetings, 2) curricular emphasis on theories of experiential learning, 3) focus on career and professional development, 4) integrated mentorship model, 5) culture of feedback and feedforward to foster successful learning, and 6) focus on recruiting diverse participants. The A-TRAC model stresses experiential education, feedback and feedforward, and peer learning.
Our resource-effective, needs-driven program is a reproducible model for institutions interested in developing multisite, virtual research education programs in the era of team science.
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