T32 Training Program

WUSTL Transdisciplinary Pre- and Postdoctoral Training Program in Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease

Obesity is an area of critical public health concern, as it is associated with significant cardiovascular health risks and the onset of cardiovascular disease.

This training program at Washington University School of Medicine proposes to recruit highly-qualified pre- and postdoctoral trainees from diverse backgrounds across disciplines and place them within transdisciplinary mentoring teams with faculty members who are leading researchers in the fields of obesity and cardiovascular disease prevention and treatment.

These training experiences will produce a diverse cohort of young scientists with the transdisciplinary research skills necessary to address the complex problems of weight and eating disorders and cardiovascular disease prevention and treatment across the lifespan.

Now accepting applications

This new NHLBI-funded T32 training program at Washington University’s School of Medicine is currently accepting applications for postdoctoral fellowship positions.

ulyump to eligibility requirements and application information »

Program overview

This program evolved from a 30-year, longstanding T32 training program at WUSTL titled “Nutrition-Behavioral Cardiovascular Disease Prevention.” The original focus of the program was on improving ways to promote nutrition and nutrition practices in the prevention of CVD, and successfully trained both PhD and MD postdoctoral candidates for more than 30 years, and predoctoral students since 2002.

From this strong foundation, we have created a more innovative training program focused on finding novel ways of framing, understanding, and addressing obesity and CVD, incorporating and mobilizing all relevant scientific disciplines,  building true transdisciplinary science.

Washington University in St. Louis is an ideal setting for such training given its world-class faculty in weight and eating disorders and CVD and its numerous institutional resources focused on transdisciplinary science.

Focus on transdisciplinary integration

The study, prevention, and treatment of obesity require the transdisciplinary integration of medical, behavioral, genetic, metabolic, and public health research approaches and findings. The study of obesity and the relation of its prevention and treatment to CVD risk must therefore be approached from a multi-level, transdisciplinary perspective requiring specialized training in translational research methods.

Accordingly, we have 15 primary mentors and 26 co-mentors who have appointments across 15 departments/divisions, which support a thriving community of trainees. Pairing mentees with mentors with backgrounds in the biomedical, cognitive and behavioral, and population health sciences will facilitate trainees’ understanding of multiple facets of obesity and enable them to  translate this information into impactful, disseminable interventions – the goal of transdisciplinary science.

Leadership and mentors

Director: Denise Wilfley, PhD; wilfleyd@psychiatry.wustl.edu
Co-director: Samuel Klein, MD; sklein@wustl.edu

The T32 program is led by two international authorities on obesity, Denise Wilfley, PhD and Samuel Klein, MD. Mentors are drawn from biomedical, cognitive and behavioral, and population health sciences, harnessing faculty across diverse disciplines, including Clinical Psychology, Social Work, Public Health, and the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences (DBBS) predoctoral programs in Human and Statistical Genetics, Molecular Cell Biology, and Neurosciences.

Together, this team of specialists facilitates the training of four pre- and four postdoctoral research scholars. Trainees establish a collaborative mentorship team with senior and junior faculty from at least two of the three transdisciplinary science domains to cultivate the development of the translational research skills necessary to prevent and treat weight and eating disorders and CVD.

Biomedical Science

Victor Davila-Roman, MD, FACC, FASE 
Professor of Medicine, Anesthisiology, and Radiology and Medical Director in Cardiovascular Imaging and Clinical Research Core Laboratory

Kenneth Freedland, PhD
Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology, associate director of Behavioral Medicine Center

Jeffery Gordon, MD
Dr. Robert J Glaser Distinguished University Professor, director of Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology

Samuel KIein, MD
William H. Danforth Professor of Medicine and Nutritional Science, director of Center for Human Nutrition, Chief of Division of Geriatrics and Nutritional Science, director of Center for Applied Research Sciences, director of Weight Management Program, director of Nutrition Obesity Research Center

Michael Province, PhD
Professor of Genetics and Statistical Genomics, director of Division of Statistical Genomics

Dabeeru C. Rao, PhD
Professor of Biostatistics, Genetics, Psychiatry, and Mathematics, and director of the Division of Biostatistics

Clay Semenkovich, MD
Irene E. and Michael M. Karl Professor, Professor of Medicine and of Cell Biology and Physiology, Chief of Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism & Lipid Research

Cognitive and Behavioral Science

Robert Carney, PhD
Professor of Psychiatry

Tamara Hershey, PhD
Professor of Psychiatry, of Neurology, and of Radiology

Patrick Lustman, PhD
Professor of Medical Psychology in Psychiatry

Denise Wilfley, PhD
Scott Rudolph University Professor of Psychiatry, Professor of Medicine, Pediatrics, Psychological and Brain Sciences, and director of the Center for Healthy Weight and Wellness

Population Health Science

Ross Brownson, PhD
Professor of Epidemiology, George Warren Brown School of Social Work and Department of Surgery at Siteman Cancer Center, and director of the Prevention Research Center in St. Louis

Graham Colditz, MD, DrPH
Deputy Director of Institute for Public Health, Chief of the Division of Public Health Sciences, Niess-Gain Professor of Surgery, associate director of Prevention and Control Program at Siteman Cancer Center

Debra Haire-Joshu, PhD
Joyce Wood Professor, director of the Center for Diabetes Translation Research, director of the Center for Obesity Prevention and Policy Research, and Faculty Director for the Envolve Center for Health Behavior Change

Susan Racette, PhD
Professor of Physical Therapy, Medicine

Supporting groups

The Washington University Nutrition Obesity Research Center, Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences, Institute for Public Health, and Diabetic Cardiovascular Disease Center provide infrastructure for implementing the program and afford trainees state-of-the-art didactic, research, and career development resources and opportunities to engage in impactful, translational science.

Training program structure

The director, co-Director, and mentors work with trainees to develop a training plan that includes:

  1. Collaborative mentoring
  2. Didactic and professional development training tailored to trainees’ individual needs
  3. Development and completion of translational research projects, grant applications, publications, and presentations based on program expectations


  1. Train talented transdisciplinary pre- and postdoctoral trainees to become independent scientists in obesity and CVD capable of working within and leading transdisciplinary research teams
  2. Provide trainees with primary mentoring from highly-qualified, senior obesity/CVD researchers and augment the trainees’ experiences with training from senior co-mentors with renowned translational research programs that can extend and inform the traditional scope of obesity/CVD research
  3. Provide training in the ethical and socially responsible conduct of obesity and CVD research across the lifespan including with vulnerable populations (e.g., children, mental health populations).


This training program is strategically poised to launch the next generation of scientists to design, implement, and evaluate multilevel, cutting-edge solutions to the prevention and treatment of weight and eating disorders and CVD.

Program expectations and routine evaluation by the program director and co-director, Internal Advisory and Selection Committee, collaborative mentorship teams, and External Advisory Committee ensures that trainees successfully achieve short- and long-term outcomes of productivity (e.g., data collection, manuscript publication, and conference presentation) and attainment of academic positions and independent grant funding. The Diversity Advisory Committee helps program leadership recruit and retain trainees from diverse backgrounds.


All applicants must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States at the time of application. Students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups and students with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply.

Pre-doctoral candidates
Must be enrolled in one of the following doctoral or dual-degree programs at Washington University: Clinical Psychology, Social Work, Public Health, Human and Statistical Genetics, Molecular Cell Biology, or Neuroscience.

Post-doctoral candidates
Required to possess a PhD, MD, or other doctoral degree in a related discipline or be enrolled in an accredited doctoral degree program and fulfill all degree requirements prior to program entry.

Application process

WUSTL T32 Postdoctoral Application Form

WUSTL T32 Predoctoral Application Form

To apply, please  download and complete the Application Form (above) and send to:

Alicia Flewelling, Program Administrator

Applications will be reviewed and accepted on a rolling basis.

Washington University is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer of all protected classes including veterans and individuals with disabilities.