Congruent Mentorship to Reach Academic Diversity in Neuroscience Research | NYU Langone Health

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Center for Healthful Behavior Change Education & Training Congruent Mentorship to Reach Academic Diversity in Neuroscience Research

Congruent Mentorship to Reach Academic Diversity in Neuroscience Research

The Congruent Mentorship to Reach Academic Diversity (COMRADE) in Neuroscience Research training is a yearlong program that trains and mentors postdoctoral fellows from underrepresented minority groups. Through NYU Langone’s Center for Healthful Behavior Change, we aim to help trainees establish independent research programs and pursue careers in behavioral neuroscience and health equity. Postdocs who successfully complete our program have the necessary skills to apply for independent research grants in these fields.


Training begins with a two-week intensive didactic summer session, followed by ongoing mentorship by scientists and a midyear academic meeting. The program concludes with a one-week follow-up summer session with National Institutes of Health (NIH) staff.

First Summer Session

As a trainee, you spend two weeks during your first summer at the Center for Healthful Behavior Change. You receive rigorous training in the fundamentals of neuroscience, neurological disparities, and behavioral medicine and learn how to conduct research, using techniques at the forefront of these fields. The summer session covers methodology, biostatistics, ethical conduct of research, behavioral and translational models, neurological disorders, neuroscience, intervention topics, community-engaged research, and grant writing.

Yearlong Mentorship and Midyear Academic Meeting

Fellows are matched with faculty mentors who are nationally and internationally recognized in the fields of neuroscience and behavioral medicine. Your mentor is also a research colleague over the course of the year. You attend a midyear academic meeting at the Center for Healthful Behavior Change.

Second Summer Session

In a one-week follow-up session at the Center for Healthful Behavior Change, your second summer includes one-on-one interactions with National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke staff, participation in an NIH Mock Study Section to review grant proposals, and proposal critiques by faculty and peers.


Our faculty of multidisciplinary experts are nationally recognized in stroke prevention and intervention, behavioral medicine, and community-engaged research. They have a history of obtaining independent funding from the NIH and other funders.

Girardin Jean-Louis, PhD
Professor, Departments of Population Health and Psychiatry
Research interests: sleep and cardiometabolic diseases; circadian rhythm; aging; health disparities

Olugbenga G. Ogedegbe, MD, MPH
The Dr. Adolf and Margaret Berger Professor of Medicine and Population Health, Department of Medicine
Professor, Department of Population Health
Research interests: health disparities and minority health; cardiovascular risk reduction in minority and low-income populations; dissemination and implementation of evidence-based behavioral interventions in management of chronic disease

Recent Graduates

The following people are recent graduates from our program.

Arlener Turner, PhD

Research interests: health-related risk factors for cognitive dysfunction; neuropsychology, Alzheimer’s disease, memory impairment, and depressive disorders; the impact of sleep disturbance on cognitive functioning; how treatment could benefit neurocognitive performance in individuals with impairment and comorbid insomnia and sleep apnea

Background: PhD in neuropsychology from Howard University; postdoctoral fellowships at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, National Institute of Mental Health, and the Rush Center of Excellence on Disparities in HIV and Aging

Daudet Ilunga Tshiswaka, PhD

Research interests: health disparities, international health, and minority health, particularly health insurance status among minorities; health behaviors related to high blood pressure among transnational Africans; and spatial distribution of high-birth-weight and low-birth-weight babies born to immigrant women

Background: worked with a student group in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, to help them increase HIV and AIDS awareness among their peers; worked with Scientific Animations Without Borders to translate preventive measures relating to malaria, Ebola, crop fields, and hand washing into the French and Lingala languages; PhD in community health from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Desiree Bygrave, PhD

Research interests: intervention practices to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease and protect or improve brain health; relations among endothelial function, brain, cognition, and the mediating role of brain pathology in the context of race-related health disparities; biopsychosocial approach to investigate the role of cardiovascular disease risk factors on cognitive function and hemodynamic variability

Background: postdoctoral research associate with the University of Delaware’s Biopsychosocial Health and Cognition Lab; PhD in neuropsychology from Howard University; graduate research assistant and adjunct lecturer in neuropsychology at Howard University’s Health Promotion and Risk Reduction Research Center; mentor and laboratory scientist for the American Psychological Association’s 2016 “I Am Psyched!” Museum Day Live campaign; inspiring girls of color to explore careers in the social and behavioral sciences

Natalie Watson, PhD

Research interests: how stress contributes to reactive health behaviors and outcomes that reduce or exacerbate health disparities in diverse groups; the role of culturally sanctioned coping strategies (such as strong black womanhood and John Henryism) in buffering against or contributing to health disparities among African Americans; effectiveness of mind–body interventions to reduce depression and hypertension among African American women

Background: PhD in clinical and community psychology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; co-investigator on “The Reveal: Making Room for Black Women’s Voices of Mental Health and Wellness” grant

Susan Douglas, MD, JD

Research interests: ways to integrate people with chronic illness and disabilities into their communities

Background: faculty in academic neurology and health services research at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center; MD from Georgetown University; public policy fellowship on the U.S. Senate Finance Committee’s Health Care Subcommittee, working on Medicare, Medicaid, and disability policy, including drafting legislation that is law today


Our mentorship program provides funding to support travel and accommodations to the Summer Institute for up to 6 trainees per cohort. The program is open to current postdoctoral fellows or scientists who are U.S. citizens or permanent U.S. residents. To apply, please complete and submit a COMRADE pre-application. Include your current CV (including mailing address, phone and fax numbers, and email address) and a statement of your research interests

Invited applicants, please complete and submit a COMRADE full-application. Include a summary of your academic work and research experience in neuroscience and health disparities or stroke.

Please also have mentors, colleagues, and department chairs use our recommendation form to submit recommendations or letters of support.

Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

Program Evaluations

Upon completion of the program, please submit your evaluations using the forms below.

Contact Us

For all questions regarding the program, please contact Ms. Debbie Chung at or 646-501-3466.