Grants & Funding

2020 Travel Awardees

VERITY Travel Award Recipients

VERITY (Value and Evidence in Rheumatology using bioInformaTics, and advanced analYtics) is a NIAMS-funded P30 research program awarded to Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The 2020 VERITY course was held virtually Tuesday, May 12 through Friday, May 15. The course is aimed at clinical investigators pursuing rheumatic disease epidemiologic and patient-oriented research. Course attendees will consist of early-stage (typically residents, fellows, or junior faculty) investigators pursuing clinical/patient-oriented/epidemiologic research studies in rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. Attendees will develop or refine a research protocol or specific aims for a grant proposal during the course

Through a partnership with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, CARRA is able to select one member to receive full travel support and participate in the VERITY/Brigham Course in Rheumatology Clinical Research in Boston, MA at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Funding for this travel award is provided by NIAMS. The 2020 recipient for the full travel award is Patricia Vega Fernandez.


Patricia Vega Fernandez

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

I highly recommend the VERITY course for those early investigators looking to enhance or develop the skills necessary to become a successful clinical and translational researcher. This year the VERITY course was held virtually. The topics presented during the meeting were appropriately developed towards research in rheumatology. The lectures were interactive, easy to follow and provided practical exercises in rheumatology. The best part of the course is the mentoring you received. I met with several mentors and peers who provided high quality feedback to improve my specific aims page and career goals in general.  In summary, I feel fortunate I had the opportunity to attend this course.

CARRA also selected several applicants to receive partial sponsorship to participate in the VERITY/Brigham Course. Funding for this travel award is supported by the Arthritis Foundation. The 2020 recipients for partial travel support are Nicole Bitencourt, Jessica Bloom, and John Bridges.


Nicole Bitencourt

UT Southwestern Medical Center

I appreciated the opportunity to participate in the VERITY course and gain new insights into launching a career in clinical research. It was a well conducted course that did have to go online this year. Even so, we had the opportunity to hear from experts and expert panels on important topics including writing grants and on optimizing submitted articles to journals. I especially enjoyed the times we spent reviewing our specific aims page and our proposed research in small groups. It was informative to receive feedback and review others' research critically as well. I would recommend the course to those interested in a career in research; as lectures were online and recorded, you can start to review them online now!



Jessica Bloom

University of Colorado/Children's Hospital Colorado

The VERITY course was an invaluable experience that went virtual without a blip. The participants had each other’s best interests in mind while every faculty member, whether on their 1st or 10th zoom of the day, could not have been more generous with their time and guidance. Over the course of each day, I vacillated between self-doubt and confidence, frustration and motivation, and confusion and clarity; yet I left the week with a strong sense of direction, new mentor support, and a group of peers that will serve as both friends and resources. I will cherish the connections I made and truly appreciate the time and effort that went in to personalizing the course for all of us! Thank you CARRA for your support in attending this program! …even if I never had to leave my apartment 😊



John Bridges

Children's of Alabama/University of Alabama Birmingham

I am very appreciative of receiving CARRA sponsorship for the VERITY (Value and Evidence in Rheumatology using bioInformaTics and advanced analYtics) course. While I was looking forward to spending time in Boston and networking face-to-face with my peers as a part of this experience, I was very impressed by the virtual solution of a research meeting conducted entirely via Zoom (pictured). The faculty and staff of VERITY did a stellar job of adapting the meeting to its virtual constraints, and I came away learning valuable skills to continue to help my future career as a clinician scientist. I was able to get personalized feedback on and in-depth discussion about my research protocol. I enjoyed the depth and breadth of the programming and the expertise provided in the project-specific feedback that I received. While I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, my work-from-home colleague (pictured) thought that the curriculum could have used more firetrucks. Thanks again to CARRA for supporting me in this way as I continue to hone a skillset for a career as a young investigator.



Eureka Virtual School Recipients

This EUREKA Virtual School tackles the intrinsic difficulties of effective translational medicine. It is designed for early-stage researchers interested in this field. COVID-19 has given the world one of its most significant challenges. Translational scientists play a crucial role in tackling these challenges, from developing and implementing diagnostic tests to treatments and vaccines and health policy. The October 2020 course "Eureka Virtual School Translational Medicine: Essential skills for impactful research during COVID-19 and beyond" was specifically designed to address those challenges.


Hanna Kim


I was honored to be the 2020 Eureka Virtual School of Translational Medicine:  Essential Skills for Impactful Research during COVID-19 and Beyond.  This was an incredible opportunity to connect with PhD and clinical trainees and early investigators from around the world, including UAE, Netherlands, UK, and Sudan, interested in building careers in translational medicine.  It was great to hear from experts on the importance on remembering your passion grounded in how best to meaningful connect projects to the patient and importance of striving for health equity as well as ways to involve patients in the process whenever possible.  We learned about the critical importance of collaboration as our diverse backgrounds and different expertise allows for innovation and give the team strength.  We also learned approaches to best communicate as the diversity the strengthens teams can often also cause conflict at the same time.   We also learned about the many steps required for a broad successful translation project, with emphasis that unexpected or negative results are inevitable along the way and that there is always opportunity for growth and learning in the process. We learned specifically about resiliency as a skill that is critical to success as a translational medicine scientist, which was refreshing to hear.  Given that this held during the COVID-19 pandemic, we also had a small group project on developing a theoretical new COVID-19 vaccine, with the chance to utilize many teamwork skills we were learning at the same time.  We had the unique opportunity chance to discuss our plans with patient advocates and experts currently involved with current COVID-19 vaccine development, which was incredibly timely and illuminating.

I am so grateful to CARRA and the Arthritis Foundation to have the opportunity to attend the Eureka Virtual School this October.  The skills and concepts taught and discussed emphasize the broad goals of translational medicine focused on helping patients as well as key strategies necessary in collaborative team science that we can all bring back to our own projects.  Despite being virtual, we were able to real connections with colleagues from around the world as well as mentors that could build future collaborations.  I very highly recommend this to any trainee or early investigator interested in building translational medicine projects. 

Kader Cetin Gedik


I sincerely appreciate CARRA and Eureka Virtual School team for enabling me to attend “Translational Medicine: Essential Skills for Impactful Research during COVID-19 and Beyond” course.

The course far exceeded my expectations and proved to be a truly inspirational experience for me. The curriculum was way beyond teaching various skills and technical knowledge for performing translational medicine. I felt one of the main goals was to assist young investigators through the navigation of finding their “why,” and to encourage participants to become their own drivers, so to speak, in their journey towards achieving their career goals. The environment and atmosphere perfectly suited the goals set by the course instructors, whose presence throughout the course provided a clear vision as to how to be one’s own driver.

The course had a comprehensive curriculum, including different aspects of translational medicine such as patient, regulatory, ethics, industry, and mentor/mentee aspects. It started with describing that the role of the patients is crucial in translational medicine and continued with insight on personal growth and how to find your compass, turning us into drivers of our own on our first day. I appreciated the guidance we received throughout the course on individual career development and creating our own “manifesto for growth,” which was coupled with learning how to be more vulnerable at the personal and professional levels to achieve meaning in our work.

Throughout the course, we had sessions on ethics, obtaining intellectual property protection, striving for health equity, speaking other people’s languages (understanding different perspectives), managing conflicts, valuing vulnerability, and gaining resilience from experienced translational researchers. At the end of each session, there was an opportunity for live discussions.

We were divided into working groups and each group worked on a case study where we were able to come up with a plan for development of COVID-19 vaccine in a very short period of time. Each group presented their project to a real pharmaceutical company leader at the end of the course. It was an unparalleled experience. We recognized that there are many more steps than we initially thought, and, in addition to scientific expertise, teamwork, collaboration, logistics, patient perspectives, health equity, and communication skills are just some of the crucial traits that were required to make this project a success.

The diversity of the participants attending this course was amazing. Although it was a virtual course, we had designated time to give us the opportunity to chat with our peers and learn about each other’s experiences, which proved to be one of the most valuable parts of the experience. I am grateful that I developed relationships with a diverse group of colleagues, friends, and mentors.

I would once again like to thank CARRA and Eureka Virtual School team for allowing me to experience this opportunity, inspiring early-stage researchers on how to become visionary scientists as well as their effort to make an influential impact on our personal and career development.