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​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 disparities in alcohol, tobacco, and other drug (ATOD) use and cancer prevention in underserved communities. The IDC's long-term goal is to use innovative pilot grants and hands-on mentorship to support opportunities for HEALTH-RCMI affiliates to secure career awards or developmentally appropriate research grants that facilitate their pathway towards research 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 early stage investigators 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 early stage investigators who are under-represented 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 


The Pilot Grant Program (PGP) funds 3-5 awards annually to support innovative projects addressing disparities in ATOD use and cancer prevention in underserved communities. Through the PGP, we actively distribute requests for applications to the UH scientific community, encouraging postdoctoral fellows, early stage investigators, and those from under-represented backgrounds to apply or be included within submitted proposals. These investigative teams receive hands-on mentoring and access to a stimulating think-tank (Innovative Research Talks) that are designed to support and nurture a new cadre of health-equity scientists. Click here to find out more about the PGP.


Dr. Reitzel
Dr. Anka Vujanovic.png

Dr. Anka Vujanovic


Dr. Anka Vujanovic is a professor of psychology in the Department of Psychology and a licensed psychologist in Texas. Her research program is focused to understand the complexity of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and some of its most prevalent and high-risk correlates, including substance use disorders (SUD) and suicide risk, through the study of underlying psychological mechanisms relevant to treatment development. Dr. Vujanovic’s work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and private foundations. Her current research reflects her leadership across several domains; she is Director of the Trauma and Stress Studies Center (TaSSC) and the UH First Responder Program as well as Director of Graduate Education in the Department of Psychology. Furthermore, Dr. Vujanovic is an Associate Editor for Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Mindfulness, and she serves on the editorial boards of seven additional journals. Dr. Vujanovic has authored over 200 publications, including journal articles, books, and book chapters. For the Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) at UH, Dr. Vujanovic will leverage her expertise in implementing pilot grant and investigator development programs as Director of the Investigator Development Core.


Dr. Ezemenari M. Obasi



Dr. Ann Chen

Senior Biostatistician &

Program Evaluator


Jayda Martinez

Program Manager

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