For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

Drexel-INCAP training program on social determinants of cardiovascular disease over the life course

image of street with pedestrians in Latin America


The Drexel Urban Health Collaborative (UHC) and the Research Center for the Prevention of Chronic Diseases (CIIPEC) at the Institute for Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP) have partnered to establish a training program on cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk across the lifespan. This training program was established, in part, because CVD incidence and the prevalence of CVD risk factors have steadily increased in the Central American region over the last several decades. The rise of CVD in the region has occurred parallel to the increases in urbanization and widening social inequities and poses a growing burden for its limited public health and health care systems.

The overarching goal of the training program is to increase local capacity to conduct policy-relevant research about the influence of social determinants and place-based factors on CVD. The program aims to provide training and mentoring of the local workforce in identifying relevant research questions, in the use of appropriate research methods, and in the dissemination of results to the scientific community, the public, and policy makers. Formulating and addressing locally relevant research questions and disseminating research results are critical to identify and develop interventions to prevent CVD in the region.

The training program is funded by the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health. The grant mechanism that funds the program seeks to sustainably strengthen the research capacity of institutions in low and middle income countries, and to train in-country experts to develop and conduct locally relevant research, and disseminate research results.

Overall Training Program Goals

The training program has four goals:

  1. To train predoctoral students (at the master’s and doctoral levels) in research methods with a focus on social determinants of CVD and CVD risk factors.
  2. To provide mentored research opportunities for (a) postdoctoral scholars at INCAP; and (b) visiting research fellows at Drexel, through their engagement in mentored research on social determinants of CVD and CVD risk factors.
  3. To assist in the development of local research capacity with a special focus on quantitative methods through the conduct of an annual methods-oriented training workshops and periodic webinars.
  4. To increase local capacity and infrastructure for research by increasing access to data, substantive and analytical expertise, mentors and opportunities for exchange and south-south collaboration. The program leverages data and collaborative opportunities available through the SALURBAL Study, the Drexel Urban Health Collaborative, and the Urban Health Network for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Training Opportunities

The training provided by the program will emphasize: 1) a focus on factors at multiple levels (from cities, to neighborhoods, to persons) and over the lifecourse; 2) the use of rigorous state-of-the-art methods; 3) an emphasis on the value of interdisciplinary approaches; 4) dissemination and translation of research findings into policy actions. Only permanent residents and citizens of the INCAP-associated countries are eligible to apply through this training program (Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Belize). Individuals who have permanent residency in the U.S. or other high-income countries are not eligible for support as trainees.

The specific training opportunities are:

PhD and MS degrees at Drexel University.

The degrees eligible are as follows below. Please click on the degree program to learn more about it as well as the requirements to apply:

Master's Degrees

Doctoral Degrees

Doctoral (PhD) trainees will spend the initial years of training at Drexel; after that they are expected to conduct the research portion of their training at INCAP. The Drexel-INCAP training program covers the university tuition, monthly stipend, airfare ticket, health insurance and other fees.

To apply: Please see application requirements for the specific degree being solicited (as listed on the links for each degree above). The application materials will be submitted through the SOPHAS website. Fee waivers for the application cost may be granted upon request.


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD): December 15

Master of Science (MS): Ideal submission deadline for this training program is March 15 (official deadline for the university is June 13).

For questions or to request a waiver for the application fee, please contact Dina Roche,, Fernanda Kroker,, and/or Brisa Sánchez When requesting a fee waiver, please attach your CV and your Statement of Purpose.

Postdoctoral Fellows Located at INCAP

Applications are invited for postdoctoral fellowships that will be located at INCAP. The postdoctoral fellowship will help trainees advance their research through interactions with the program mentors, including data analyses, write-up of manuscripts for publication, and preparation of research proposals. Fellows participating just after doctoral training will be assigned two mentors depending on their research interests, one at Drexel and one at INCAP depending on their expertise. Mentors will work with the postdoctoral fellows to craft an Individual Development Plan for the duration of their fellowship. All postdocs will also receive instruction in or participate in project management, as well as other short-term training opportunities (e.g., annual methods workshop, webinars).

Applicants for postdoctoral fellowships must hold a doctoral degree and have research experience. Postdoctoral positions will be initially appointed for 1 year and are renewable for up to 2 years. The first position begins in the Summer/Fall of 2022.

To apply: submit a CV and cover letter describing the applicant’s interest and/or experience in CVD research. Additional materials may be required after initial application (e.g., statement of research interest; letters of reference).

Review of applications will begin in June 1, 2022; applications will be accepted until position is filled.

For questions or to apply please contact Dina Roche, ( and/or Fernanda Kroker, (

Visiting Research Fellows at Drexel University

Applications are invited for research visits to Drexel University for periods of approximately 3-6 months. Fellows will develop a specific research plan with input from their mentors and will be expected to lead at least one paper and/or develop a grant proposal for submission. Research fellows will engage in UHC and Drexel wide activities and will benefit from analytical and statistical support available at the UHC. They will also be eligible to take one summer course in the UHC summer institute and will participate in regular webinars and journal clubs.

Visiting fellows will ideally have a doctoral degree. Persons may be considered for a visiting fellowship when they do not have a doctoral degree but have prior research experience and hold a faculty position or research position at a university or research institute in the participating countries of Central America.

To apply: please submit a CV and cover letter describing the applicant’s interest and/or experience in CVD research. Additional materials may be required after initial application (e.g., research plan for the visit; letters of reference).

Approximately 2-3 positions will be available each year, depending on the duration of each position. The start date and duration of the position are negotiable. Review of applications will occur periodically until positions are filled each year. Application deadlines are annually from 2022-2024 on: March 1; May 1; September 1.

For questions or to apply please contact Dina Roche, ( and/or Fernanda Kroker, (

Research Internship Opportunities at INCAP

Young researchers with a master's or doctoral degree and postgraduate students (master's or doctorate) from the eight SICA countries (Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and the Dominican Republic) are invited to apply for research internships at INCAP; candidates outside of Guatemala will work remotely. Applicants must be citizens and reside in one of the eight SICA countries.

The fellows will work on a research project under the supervision of an INCAP researcher. As part of the internship, the fellows will develop a research plan, within thematic areas defined by the INCAP researchers, execute the research plan, and write a research report that will be submitted as a scientific article to a research journal in English. The research topics must be within the main objectives of the training program that finances this activity, entitled "Social determinants of risk factors for cardiovascular disease throughout the life course." This topic covers a large number of subtopics, such as dietary risk factors and cardiometabolic outcomes, urban health, and food environment. INCAP researchers will provide mentoring in the definition of research questions and hypotheses.

For master's or doctoral students, the scientific article can be used as part of their thesis. Fellows will benefit from the analytical and statistical support available at INCAP, and are also expected to participate in regular webinars and virtual journal clubs.

The internship will last 1 year, and the fellows are expected to dedicate 20 hours per week to the research project, for which they will receive a monthly stipend of $700 US dollars and will have the opportunity to take a workshop to develop their statistical analysis skills. Workshop attendance costs will be paid by the training program.

All applicants must have an interest in cardiovascular disease research or cardiovascular disease risk factors or prevention. If the applicant is currently a master’s student, then at the time of submitting application materials, they will ideally be in their first year of Master's and PhD students between their second and third year. In this case, the research period described above would take place during the second year of the master's degree or the third or fourth year of the doctorate. Other options regarding the stage of the applicant's career may be considered; For example, fellows may have already completed their master’s degree, and are currently working at a research institute or university, or elsewhere conducting research, and may use this opportunity to further enhance their research experience.

Approximately 2-3 positions will be available in 2023 and 2024. Application deadlines are July 28, 2023; July 15, 2024. Decisions will be announced at the end of August. The start date of the position is negotiable. The duration of the position (1 year) may be shortened if necessary depending on the start date.

To apply you must send the following documentation:

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Cover letter describing the applicant's interest and/or experience in cardiovascular disease research

If you are currently studying a master's or doctoral program, you must also submit the following:

  • Graduation requirements
  • Required elements/milestones for your study program thesis
  • Delivery dates of said elements
  • Contact information for your advisor or program director

Additional materials and interview may be required after initial application (eg, research plan, letters of reference). For questions or to submit your application, please contact Dina Roche ( with a copy to Fernanda Kroker (

Annual Workshop, Periodic Webinars and Journal Clubs

Learn More


For questions please contact: Dina Roche, (, Fernanda Kroker ( and/or Brisa Sánchez (


Training Team Leaders

  • Ana Diez-Roux, Drexel University
  • Fernanda Kroker-Lobos, INCAP
  • Manuel Ramirez-Zea, INCAP
  • Brisa N. Sánchez, Drexel University

Training Team Collaborators

  • Amy H. Auchincloss, Drexel University
  • Sharrelle Barber, Drexel University
  • Tonatiuh Barrientos-Gutierrez, National Institute of Public Health, Mexico
  • Usama Bilal, Drexel University
  • Ana Garcés, INCAP
  • Giovanna Gatica-Domínguez, INCAP
  • Stephen E. Lankenau, Drexel University
  • Mariana Lazo-Elizondo, Drexel University
  • Gina S. Lovasi, Drexel University
  • Ana Martinez-Donate, Drexel University
  • Mónica Mazariegos, INCAP
  • Leslie McClure, Drexel University
  • Juan J. Miranda, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Perú
  • D. Alexander Quistberg, Drexel University
  • Olga L. Sarmiento, Universidad de los Andes, Colombia
  • Loni P. Tabb, Drexel University

Advisory Committee

  • Juan Ángel Rivera Dommarco, National Institute of Public Health, Mexico
  • Waleska Teixeira Caiaffa, Federal University of Minas Gerais, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil
  • Alex Ezeh, Drexel University
  • Peter Rohloff, Maya Health Alliance, Guatemala

Funding Statement: The program is funded in part by NIH-Fogarty grant D43TW011971 (Sánchez/Diez-Roux, MPIs).

Important Note: The process of admissions to the MS or PhD degrees is conducted independently of this training program. That is, prospective students must first be admitted to an MS or PhD degree program through a separate process, prior to being eligible for this funding opportunity.