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Systems Science in Childhood Obesity and Public Health Research

Pre-doctoral opportunities at Johns Hopkins University


The NIH funded, Johns Hopkins Global Center on Childhood Obesity (JHGCCO) has an opening for a qualified pre-doctoral trainee from diverse fields (e.g., Public Health, Medicine, Engineering, Nursing, or Arts and Sciences) with a career interest in addressing childhood obesity, non-communicable chronic diseases, and related topics in public health using systems science theories and methods. The position will be funded for one year from July 1, 2013. Renewal would be considered for a further year, contingent upon satisfactory progress, availability of training funds, and approval from your mentor. 

The Center conducts both domestic and international research aiming to better understand the causes and prevention of childhood obesity and other lifestyle related non-communicable chronic diseases.  While based at the Johns Hopkins University, with investigators from five schools including Public Health, Medicine, Nursing, Engineering, and Arts and Sciences, we also have multidisciplinary researchers at approximately 20 leading institutions around the globe. 

Applications are invited from exceptional individuals who will benefit from involvement with training and research activities and who will contribute to the Center and the field at large. Women and candidates from under-represented minorities are particularly encouraged to apply.  Trainees will be provided with training in systems science and public health, opportunities for research, and involvement in diverse Center activities. A paid traineeship will be provided.

Eligibility Requirements
Candidates must have passed the admission requirements for a doctoral program at one of the departments in the five schools listed above. Preference will be given to currently enrolled students in the second or third year of their doctoral studies.

Application Process
To apply, please send a letter of intent, curriculum vita, and contact information for three referees (all as one PDF file) to the Center's Education and Training Core (ETC) Program Manager, Rosemary Mountain, at The letter of intent must be no more than 1000 words and should address the following points:

  1. What are your most important previous experiences that make you a good candidate for this training program?
  2. What are your long-term career goals and how would this training program fit those goals?
  3. What do you want to focus on in your research and how does that fit with this training program?  Please be specific about particular skills, knowledge or certification that are relevant to your future career.  Please also mention if you prefer to work with a particular Center faculty member.
  4. Why are you interested in research about childhood obesity and systems approaches to public health?
  5. Please include a description of what Hopkins school, department and degree program you have applied to, or are currently enrolled in, and a clear statement of where you are in the process.

We will contact the referees for letters of support if your application is selected for further review.

The application deadline is April 22nd 2013. Applications are welcomed at any time for other positions as they become available or to be forwarded to other projects and researchers within the Center.


Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Could you tell me a little more about what it entails in terms of the experience and training pre-doctoral trainees would get?

Trainees will be responsible for meeting all obligations, deadlines and milestones that pertain to the department and program into which they are accepted.  Participation in the Center's training will supplement the "home" curriculum.  In general, trainees will be exposed to seminars, online courses and tutorials, and opportunities to be involved in research taking place in the Center or one of its affiliated studies.  Another key feature of the training program is the opportunity to interact and collaborate with other trainees who represent different fields of expertise.  Students with a background in public health will be able to interact with systems modelers and vice versa.  All trainees will gain substantive depth in various aspects of obesity at the individual and population levels.   Trainees will have the opportunity to apply for rapid response pilot projects designed to evaluate natural experiments intended to prevent or reduce the burden of obesity.   As the Center is an international collaboration, trainees will be exposed to colleagues in other countries and may be involved in international research projects.  Each trainee will have at least 1 Center-affiliated mentor who will meet regularly with the trainees, set training goals and coordinate the training objectives of the center with that of the home department.  All trainees will be expected to attend regular research in progress sessions and to take several courses depending on previous background and training.  

  • When is the expected start date, and the duration (approximately) of the traineeship? 

 We anticipate appointing 1 pre-doctoral trainee at the start of the 2013-2014 academic year. The earliest possible start date would be July 1, 2013. Traineeships are awarded in one-year terms with a possibility of renewal for a second year depending on progress.

  • How much is the stipend (approximately)?

Students are provided with a wage that is consistent with standard NIH stipend levels.   Students also receive a standard benefits package that includes health insurance.   The program also pays a substantial fraction of tuition based on standard NIH calculations.  There are limited funds available for travel, computers, software and other training needs.  

  • What is the application deadline? 

Applications for pre-doctoral training slots for the coming academic year will be accepted until April 22, 2013.   Pre-doctoral students may not apply for support under the ETC until they have been admitted by one of the departments recognized as partners of the ETC training program.  

  • Where will the training take place? 

Trainees will work with their mentors to develop a training plan that is consistent with their home department.  This will include where training will take place.  Seminars and work in progress sessions will be held at both the Bloomberg School of Public Health in the downtown campus as well as at the Homewood campus.  Office and work space will be arranged on a case-by-case basis.