Minnesota Obesity Prevention Training (MnOPT)

The MnOPT fellowship program is dedicated to providing innovative interdisciplinary training for the next generation of biologic, behavioral, and clinical obesity prevention scientists. The program offers training to predoctoral (PhD), postdoctoral, and medical fellows. MnOPT is a NIH/NIDDK–Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award, Institutional Research Training Grant.
Current Fellowship Opening(s): The January 31, 2019 deadline for applications has passed. Please visit this site for future calls for applications.

The Fellowship Experience

The program offers training for up to three predoctoral fellows who may be accepted in one of several University of Minnesota PhD programs, as well as up to three postdoctoral fellows with MD, PhD, or equivalent degrees.
The positions offer up to a 4-5 year appointment for predoctoral training or a 2-3 year appointment for postdoctoral training with a flexible start date, tuition benefits, an NIH stipend, and support for scientific meeting travel and other training experiences.
Trainees will engage in research that focuses on the biology of obesity, clinical research on human obesity, and applied studies of treatment and prevention in community settings.
Central to the MnOPT mission is having a strong mentoring environment for trainees organized around two training tracks:

  •   Epidemiology/Behavioral Research
  •   Basic Sciences/Clinical Studies

There will also be active efforts to facilitate transdisciplinary training between these areas in order to broaden trainees’ disciplinary horizons.
Trainees will receive interdisciplinary training through a required core course, a monthly obesity research group, and other regular seminars. They will participate actively in research. They will be mentored in communicating study findings in written publication formats and in oral presentations, grantsmanship, research ethics, and career development.
Training goals are accomplished by matching trainees with faculty mentors who guide trainees in the development of the technical expertise and skills they will need to be successful, independent researchers.
There are 33 potential faculty mentors in the program.  See the end of this page.
For additional program details, download General Information and Policies.


Application Process

Download MnOPT Application
[You will need to download and save the application to your desktop.]
If interested, an application should be submitted electronically as a single doc or pdf file to the Program Coordinator as follows:

Minnesota Obesity Prevention Training Program
Division of Epidemiology & Community Health
University of Minnesota School of Public Health
1300 South 2nd Street, Suite 300
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55454-1015

Kerrin Brelje, Program Coordinator
Phone: (612) 626-8570
Email: kbrelje@umn.edu


Applicants must be US citizens, US noncitizen nationals, or permanent residents. (Individuals on temporary or student visas are not eligible for Kirschstein-NRSA support.)
Predoctoral trainees must be formally admitted into a PhD program at the University of Minnesota before the start of the training.
Postdoctoral trainees must have earned a doctoral degree (MD, PhD, etc.) in health sciences or related fields (laboratory, clinical, nutrition, and epidemiology). Demonstrated experience or potential in research is the primary criteria for appointment.
Criteria for selection of all trainees include academic performance and a career orientation toward independent research in an academic, clinical, or public health setting related to obesity prevention.
Trainee Citizenship
At the time of appointment to the training program, individuals selected for research training supported by NRSA institutional training grants must be citizens or noncitizen nationals of the United States, or must have been lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence, i.e., in possession of a currently valid Alien Registration Receipt Card I-551, or some other legal verification of legal admission as a permanent resident.
Noncitizen nationals are generally persons born in outlying possessions of the United States (e.g., American Samoa and Swains Island). Individuals on temporary or student visas are not eligible for Kirschstein-NRSA support. In addition, trainees must be able to commit full-time effort in the program at the time of appointment.
Fellowship Positions—Availability
There are three predoctoral and three postdoctoral fellowship positions with the program. Positions become available at irregular intervals.
Please contact the program director, Robert W. Jeffery (jefferyrw@gmail.com); or the co-director, Catherine Kotz (kotzx004@umn.edu); or the program coordinator, Kerrin Brelje by phone (612) 626-8570) or email (kbrelje@umn.edu), for further information.


Stipend & Benefits

Stipends are based on current NIH-approved levels and years of postdoctoral experience. For current stipend information, go to http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-15-048.html#. Note that there is a potential payback requirement for postdoctoral fellows who take non-research positions prior to the end of two years.
The amount of tuition covered by the training program is subject to the actual NIH award.
Other Training-Related Expenses
Reimbursement for textbooks and other required course materials, as well as certain other research-related expenses, on a pre-approval basis. Receipts are required for reimbursement.
Health Insurance
Predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows are encouraged and eligible to secure the Graduate Assistant Health Plan for single coverage through the University of Minnesota (trainees pay 5%): http://www.shb.umn.edu/twincities/graduate-assistants.htm.
If preferred, fellows can find their own health insurance provider and the program will reimburse them for an amount up to the Graduate Assistant Health Plan single coverage rate. Prior permission from the Program Coordinator is required.
Reimbursement of pre-approved travel expenses to one professional meeting per grant year. Maximum dollar amount is subject to the actual NIH award.


Program Faculty


Tracks Epidemiology/Behavioral Basic Science/Clinical
Leaders: Robert W. Jeffery Catherine Kotz
Faculty Mentors: Caitlin Caspi*

Ellen Demerath

Simone French

Jayne Fulkerson

Sarah Gollust

Lisa Harnack

Melissa Laska

Jennifer Linde*

Traci Mann*

Susan Mason*

Dianne Neumark-Sztainer

Mark Pereira

Nancy Sherwood

Lyn Steffen

Rachel Widome

Emilyn Alejandro

Alessandro Bartolomucci

David Bernlohr

Xiaoli Chen

Lisa Chow

Carrie Earthman

Daniel Gallaher

Aaron Kelly

Do-Hyung Kim

Catherine Kotz

Mindy Kurzer

Douglas Mashek

Timothy O’Connell

John Osborn

Carol Peterson

Hai-Bin Ruan*

Elizabeth Seaquist

*Associate Program Faculty
The Minnesota Obesity Training Program is supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIH Grant 1T32DK083250–01A1; http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-10-036.html).
The University of Minnesota is committed to the policy that all persons shall have equal access and opportunity to its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status or sexual orientation. In adherence to this policy, MnOPT advocates the use of recruiting and search processes to enhance participation of racial minorities, women, persons with a disability, and Vietnam era veterans in the training program.