CIHR STAGE trainees will have the opportunity to expand upon their core discipline by acquiring specialized cross-disciplinary training in related disciplines of genetic epidemiology and statistical genetics research through a series of formal, informal and interactive learning opportunities, including:


These new “geneticists” will have the ability to resolve complex issues in the design and analysis of population health studies addressing high-impact hypotheses by acquiring the experience necessary to:

  • design and conduct studies that can identify and characterize genetic determinants for complex diseases,
  • measure the public health impact of having identified these genetic determinants, and
  • integrate the use of genetic determinants into studies of the molecular basis of complex diseases.

Program graduates will be thoroughly prepared to:

  • lead and/or contribute to research of complex diseases, and
  • pursue positions in academic or research institutions in the public or private sectors worldwide.

Summary of Training Objectives and Assessable Outcomes

Unit of InstructionObjectivesOutcomesAssessments
Co-mentorship in three disciplines
  • To foster the development and application of integrative thinking
  • To learn about, and experience, the value of partnership
  • To acquire knowledge and skills in the three core disciplines of genetic epidemiologic investigations
  • Trainees will have access to mentors with complementary strengths and learn about research without disciplinary boundaries
  • Trainees will demonstrate acquisition of skills in genetic epidemiologic investigations
  • The team of co-mentors will be established at the time of admission.
  • Trainees will demonstrate integrative thinking in the development of their research protocol and papers
  • Trainees will demonstrate partnership skills in activities of the curriculum such as the “paper project” based on the STAGE Integrative sessions
  • Courses in core discipline
  • To develop strength in a core discipline
  • Trainees will develop expertise in one of the three core elements of genetic epidemiologic research; for example, epidemiology, (bio)statistics, or biomedical/genetics
  • Trainees will successfully complete (or have completed5) required courses of their core academic program in a timely manner
  • Integrative courses
  • To introduce trainees to the basic concepts and principles of genetic epidemiology, statistical genetics and population genetics as integrative disciplines
  • Trainees will think in terms of the ‘big picture’ while working on individual aspects of a problem. For example, statistics trainees will take into consideration biological information while working on specific statistical problems
  • Trainees will successfully complete at least three integrative courses i.e., Fundamentals of Genetic Epidemiology, Statistical Genetics, and Molecular Anthropology (Population Genetics), in addition to the required seminar course
  • Courses4 in cross-disciplines
  • To develop cross-disciplinary skills and knowledge
  • Trainees will have a broad understanding of key principles and concepts, relevant to genetic epidemiologic research, in the two other core elements. For example, biomedical/genetic trainees will take (bio)statistics and epidemiology courses
  • Trainees will successfully complete at least one course in two core disciplines outside their own
  • Weekly journal clubs/Research progress seminarsWith a focus on methods and study designs:
  • To discuss seminal papers and recent breakthroughs
  • To provide a casual, yet critical, environment for trainees to present their research projects
  • To foster a sense of community
  • Trainees will employ critical and integrative thinking through discussions with peers and faculty, and will demonstrate good oral-communication skills
  • Trainees and mentors will regularly attend the journal clubs and seminars, and will develop presentation skills prior to presenting at national or international meetings
  • Monthly International Speaker seminar series
  • To develop an International perspective of genetic epidemiologic research
  • To provide networking opportunities
    To advertise STAGE

  • Opportunities for trainees to meet with international speakers in an informal setting
  • Trainees will be exposed to high-calibre international research, and will be able to discuss their research with speakers
  • STAGE Integrative sessions
  • To develop and apply integrative thinking
  • To develop and apply professional skills
  • To develop a sense of team and community
  • Trainees and mentors will interact on a monthly basis to exchange scientific thoughts and ideas, will learn how different disciplines think and speak, and will gain a broad view of the various skills required to succeed in scientific research
  • Trainees will be engaged in the discussion during the sessions
  • In the course of their training in the program, trainees will produce an a “paper project”, in cooperation with their three mentors, suitable for publication, operating grant application, or provincial grant (e.g. Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation); their work will be presented at the DLSPH Annual Research Day

  • Writing grants and papers & Peer-review activities
  • To develop and apply skills in writing grants and scientific papers
  • To become familiar with the process of peer-review of grants and papers
  • Having obtained the appropriate authorizations, trainees will be observers on peer-review panels, and mentors and trainees will jointly act as reviewers manuscripts from peer-reviewed scientific journals
  • All trainees will apply for external studentships/fellowships
  • Trainees and mentors will jointly prepare critical reviews of submitted manuscripts
  • Trainees will write well-structured scientific papers with impact

  • Research practicums
  • To provide hands-on experience
  • To encourage cross-disciplinary experience
    Specific to masters level statisticians/ epidemiologists/ biologists: To be better prepared as highly qualified personnel for genetic epidemiologic work environment
  • Trainees will have the skills to work in a genetic epidemiologic research environment
  • Trainees will exercise good judgment in addressing relevant scientific questions through analysis of existing research data using statistical genetics software
  • Internship program option through MITACS ACCELERATE
  • To introduce trainees to real-life work experience
  • To develop professional relationships with Canadian industry and other non-academic organizations
  • Trainees will apply their graduate research to real-world challenges and learn about non-academic R&D processes
  • Trainees will exercise skills in a new setting, and will identify potential future employers or collaborators from non-academic settings
  • International trainee exchange & internship program
  • To introduce trainees to a collaborative international experience
  • To encourage trainees to seek their own collaboration on a small project
    To provide a medium to promote STAGE and recruit international trainees
  • Trainees will learn about approaches unavailable in their Canadian labs, or will validate their results in another sample
  • Trainees will learn about different research cultures, and will network at the international level
  • Trainees will share new techniques and results with other STAGE trainees and mentors, and will obtain publishable results from their internship experiences

  • National Videoconference & Annual Canadian Epidemiological and Statistical Genetics meeting
  • To develop a national perspective of colleagues’ interests and expertise
  • To foster a broader sense of community
  • Trainees will be made aware of the work of Canadian colleagues and develop a sense of belonging to the Canadian genetic epidemiology community
  • Trainees and mentors will regularly attend videoconference and the annual meeting, and will develop a network of Canadian collaborators
  • 4 These courses will be available to post-docs but not required.
    5 For example, postdoctoral fellows and “re-training” scientists.