​The Investigator Development Core (IDC) raises the scientific impact of the HEALTH Center for Addictions Research and Cancer Prevention by providing opportunities, support, and mentoring for the next generation of researchers to pursue research addressing differences in addictions and cancer prevention research in under-served communities. The IDC's long-term goal is to use innovative pilot grants and hands-on mentorship to support opportunities for fellows and assistant professors to secure career awards or developmentally appropriate research grants that help their pathway towards independence. The success of the scientific community's efforts to enhance health outcomes for health disparity populations depends significantly on our investment in the upcoming generation of scientists who work creatively on these critical, complex public health problems.

The IDC specific aims are to:

  1. Attract, solicit, and mentor the development of innovative pilot grant applications that advance health-equity science in addictions and cancer prevention and workforce diversity through rigorous research studies led by postdoctoral fellows and assistant professors at the University of Houston (UH).

  2. Review, prioritize, and fund innovative pilot studies through a formal, rigorous review process.

  3. Monitor and ensure the resource economy, administrative compliance, and fiscal integrity of the funded pilot studies by facilitating their access to – and communication with – HEALTH Center for Addictions Research and Cancer Prevention Cores and resources, including investigators, staff, data, and other related mentoring resources.

  4. Mentor and promote the grant development of promising postdoctoral fellows and assistant professors who are underrepresented in the health sciences.

  5. Evaluate and report on the impact and success of the IDC's Pilot Grant Program and mentoring activities.


The IDC's Pilot Grant Program 


This program funds 3-5 awards annually to support innovative projects addressing differences in addictions and cancer prevention for low-income communities. We actively distribute applications on these critical scientific topics from the UH academic community, encouraging and mentoring investigators from underrepresented backgrounds to participate in this program. The IDC has a strict shaping, evaluation, review, and funding process ensuring the pilot grants comply with federal requirements and help fellows and assistant professors use these resources to support their emerging research programs in health-equity science. Applicants and investigators also receive hands-on mentoring to generate a new line of health disparities researchers in the health sciences. The IDC enhances the HEALTH Center for Addictions Research and Cancer Prevention by serving as a research resource in the region that improves local and national workforce development in minority health and health disparities.



Dr. Olivera Nesic-Taylor


Dr. Olivera Nesic-Taylor is a professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences. Her program of research focuses on neuroscience research, in the field of neurotrauma and chronic pain. Dr. Nesic-Taylor has held faculty appointments at universities in Europe, Canada, and the U.S. She also has extensive experience working in diverse academic settings, and training and mentoring diverse graduate/medical students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty at various stages in their career development. She has been a principal investigator of federally- and locally-funded research grants. For this Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) at UH, Dr. Nesic-Taylor leverages her mentoring experience to direct the IDC.

Dr. Ezemenari M. Obasi


Ericka Cauthon

Program Director

Dr. Ann Chen

Senior Biostatistician &

Program Evaluator

HEALTH Center for Addictions Research & Cancer Prevention

1100 Health 2, 4849 Calhoun Rd.
Houston, TX 77204

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© 2020 by the HEALTH Center for Addictions Research and Cancer Prevention. The U54 RCMI at UH is funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (U54MD015946).