San Diego IRACDA, Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award

San Diego IRACDA, Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award, is an NIH/NIGMS-sponsored program designed to provide three years of mentored, post-doctoral research experience in biomedical sciences at UC San Diego, teaching training through pedagogy and mentored teaching experiences at our partner institutions as well as an opportunity to develop critical academic skills. A 4th year of support may be provided for fellows that need more training.  The IRACDA program aims especially to develop a diverse group of highly trained biomedical scientists. 

The program provides training in research, teaching and other critical skills that are needed to conduct high quality research and pursue an independent research and teaching career in an academic environment. Other specific objectives are to innovate, re-design and develop science curriculum at minority-serving partner institutions (MSIs) and to establish links between UCSD and MSIs to promote collaborations in faculty research and student training.

Program History

The San Diego IRACDA program admitted its first trainees in late 2003. This IRACDA program combines the research-intensive faculty of UCSD with the teaching environment of the minority-serving institutions (MSI), San Diego State University and San Diego City College. The teaching plan includes training in innovative pedagogy and in course development and re-design. This integration differs from that of the other nationwide IRACDA Programs (see Links). The objectives of the IRACDA program are to: 1) provide rigorous training to a diverse group of scholars who will seek independent research and teaching positions in academia, 2) enhance and enrich the curriculum at partner MSIs and 3) increase the number of underrepresented students from MSIs that participate in research at UCSD and enter graduate programs in biomedical sciences. 

The San Diego IRACDA program has graduated 70 fellows, 19 are in training and 2 are new arrivals, 62% are from underrepresented populations and 60% are women. All of our alumni are employed in science and (62%) have obtained faculty positions at academic research– and teaching-intensive institutions.      

Some of the notable institutions include: City College of New York,  Pomona College,  Occidental College,  Hofstra University,  Keck Graduate Institute,  Mount Saint Mary College,  Cal State Northridge,  Cal State Los Angeles,  Cal State Humboldt,  National University,  Northern Arizona University,  Pacific Lutheran University,  Palomar CollegeRoosevelt University,  Southern Illinois University,  St. Jude’s Research Hospital,  The Wistar Institute,  Texas Christian University,  University of Illinois Chicago,  University of Northern FloridaUniversity of Puget Sound,  University of North Texas,  Westminster College,  William Paterson University and several hold Assistant Professor positions at the University of California, San Diego

IRACDA Provides

IRACDA program provides Fellow salary/wages based on the NIH scale with prescribed annual increases, health benefits and support for research including: $2500 towards the purchase of computers and teaching supplies and up to $1000 annually to attend scientific meetings or professional development workshops. In addition, complete funding to attend the Annual IRACDA National Conference and $2500 to attend the HHMI/NAS Summer Teaching Institute.

Research Mentors

The San Diego IRACDA program focuses on biomedical research and draws research mentors from the Health Sciences (School of Medicine, Departments of Pharmacology, Cell and Molecular Medicine, Neurosciences, Pathology and the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences), Division of Biological Sciences, Chemistry & Biochemistry, and Bioengineering. Faculty mentors must have active, external funded research projects and track records in mentoring and training students and postdoctoral scholars. Mentors are drawn primarily from Biomedical Sciences and Neurosciences graduate programs at UCSD (see links below). Participating faculty can be found on the web sites noted below, where you will find descriptions of research programs of faculty members. After you identify potential mentors, consult the Program Director to determine if your choices are suitable for the IRACDA Program.

  1. Bioengineering:

  2. Biomedical Sciences:

  3. Biology:

  4. Chemistry & Biochemistry:

  5. -Neurosciences:

  6. Pharmaceutical Sciences:

  7. Pharmacology:

  8. Cell and Molecular Medicine: 

  9. Pathology:

  10. Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research:

IRACDA fellows are encouraged to establish links and research collaborations with faculty at our partner minority-serving institutions. A list of SDSU faculty co-mentors and their research programs can be found on the following website:

Many applicants write directly to potential mentors and establish mutual interests; doctoral advisors can be helpful here. If you would like assistance in finding a mentor, contact the Directors at If you reach an agreement with a potential mentor before applying to IRACDA, a letter from the proposed mentor must be included,and should describe the proposed work, the mentor’s agreement to training you, and the mentor’s training track record.

Teaching Training

San Diego State University (SDSU) is a designated Hispanic serving institution with 31% Latino and a large immigrant African and Asian student population.

San Diego City College (City) is a designated Hispanic serving community college with a 45% Latino student population.

Year 1: UCSD teaching pedagogy training 

Teacher training will begin at UCSD in the first quarter of the Fellow’s arrival with instruction at the Center for Engaged Teaching (CET).  The CTD provides courses and workshops in research-based instructional strategies, a theoretical background in scientific teaching and learning, and the communication skills necessary to teach successfully in higher education.  Introduction to active-learning, diversity and instructional technology will occur in the first year. 

Year 2:  Teaching at SDSU and City College & Summer Institutes on undergraduate education

Fellows will receive teaching assignments in a course in their related field in the second year. Fellows will work with teaching mentors to design and deliver teaching modules, assessment questions and other classroom activities.  After one year of teaching, fellows will attend the National Academies/HHMI Summer Institutes on Undergraduate Education, a weeklong teaching intensive training program on “scientific teaching”.  Fellows will share their knowledge and skills gained in scientific teaching through workshops and will lead efforts in course re-design .

Year 3:  Teaching innovation, course development and re-design at SDSU or City College

The 3rd year fellows will work on a backwards design project of an upper or lower division course using scientific teaching and active learning approaches and mentor first year Fellows.

Teaching Workshops

Fall 2016

Scientific Teaching Workshop: Empowering Educators to Cultivate inclusivity, Student Growth, and Retention in STEM

Presented by: Angelica Riestra, Tony Davis, Morgan Mouchka, Anel Lizcano, John Lapek and Brian Leon


Nov. 7, 2017

9:30-11:30 am MET 215 

San Diego City College

Nov. 14, 2017

2:30-4:30 pm MS140

San Diego State University

Dec. 1, 2017

2:00- 4:00 pm AH-1120

Fall 2016

Scientific Teaching Workshop: Inclusivity and Alignment: Best Practices for Increasing Student Learning and STEM Retention 

Presented by: Angie Hernandez-Carretero, Dave Gorkin, Edwin Paz and Neil Grimsey


Oct. 3, 2016

12:30-2:30pm MET 145 

San Diego State University

Nov. 4, 2016

10-12 am AH-1120

San Diego City College

Nov. 14, 2016

Mentoring and Outreach

Goals: The goals of the IRACDA outreach/mentoring activities are to increase the number of students from minority-serving partner institutions who either: 1) conduct research at the RII institution (UCSD) or 2) go on to complete the Ph.D. degree in biomedical or behavioral sciences. 

Requirements: The IRACDA fellow will engage in a minimum of two outreach activities during the first year and one outreach activity during subsequent years in the program. Outreach activities include; mentoring students in the Pre-MARC program, participating in the Learning Communities, or Panels/Workshops given in conjunction with SDSU’s CASA programs or with City College’s MESA program. The Panels/Workshops will be open to all students but attendance by CASA and MESA program students will be highly encouraged. We also strongly encourage the mentoring and supervision of an SDSU or City College undergraduate researcher in your lab during the school year or for an 8 week summer internship. 

Mentoring and Outreach Workshops

Spring 2019 – SDSU

April 9, 2019
SDSU Learning Communities Course:
Lab Mock Interviews: Eillen Tecle and Jessica Cassin

Summer 2019 – IRACDA Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship- City College Students

City College students participate in 8-week summer research program at UCSD. Students will work with IRACDA Fellows in labs doing cutting-edge biomedical research and participate in weekly professional development activities.

Professional Development Activities

These meetings focus on enhancing academic skills and occur 6 times per quarter and cover topics related to job searches, management, leadership, research ethics and cultural competence.

May 30- Research Talks
3:00-5:00 at BRF 5A03
Jorge Jimenez, Monica Gonzalez, Natalie Goldberg
Moderator: Dequina Nicholas
June 30 – July 2- National IRACDA Conference 

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

 How to Apply

Applicants can be either near graduation, new PhDs, MDs, MD/PhDs or postdoctoral fellows with up to approximately 2 years of postgraduate training and must be U. S. Citizens or Permanent Residents. Candidates from groups under-represented in biomedical and/or behavioral sciences or with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply. 

IRACDA fellows conduct research related to the understanding of life processes and lays the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention. Fellows seek to answer important scientific questions in fields such as cell biology, genetics, developmental biology, biophysics, pharmacology, physiology, biological chemistry, biomedical technology, bioinformatics, computational biology, selected aspects of the behavioral sciences and specific cross-cutting clinical areas that affect multiple organ systems. 

To apply, please submit the following as a single PDF file electronically to the San Diego IRACDA Program Office at by either April 15th or October 15th deadline with subject line “Application” followed by your last name as follows:  “Application -last name”

  1. (1)Cover letter

  1. (2)IRACDA Personal Data Form-2017_18.docx

  1. (3)Personal statement (2 page limit): The personal statement should include a description of your PhD training; interest in pursuing a career in academia, experience in expanding access and educational opportunities to under-represented students; life experiences that motivate pursuit of higher education and statement of future career goals, research interests and a list of at least two potential mentors.

  1. (4)Curriculum Vitae

  1. (5)Two Letters of Recommendation (letters can be submitted separately to with subject line “Letter” followed by your last name)

Applicants should begin to contact potential research mentors as they apply to the IRACDA program. The Program can assist in suggesting appropriate mentors within the research community at UC San Diego. If you reach an agreement with a potential mentor before applying to IRACDA, a 3rd letter from the proposed mentor must be included, and should describe the proposed work, the mentor’s agreement to training you, and the mentor’s training track record.

For general questions or information about the IRACDA Program, email 

For information about the Teaching training component and opportunities, email with subject line “TEACHING”.

Program Contacts


JoAnn Trejo, Ph.D.

Professor of Pharmacology

Associate Dean for Health Sciences Faculty Affairs

School of Medicine, UC San Diego



Education Coordinator and Program Administration

Stacy D. Ochoa, Ph.D.

UC San Diego 

Adjunct Professor 

College of Sciences, San Diego State University 


Associate Director 

Cathie Atkins, Ph.D.

Associate Dean for Academic & Faculty Affairs, College of Sciences Professor of Psychology

San Diego State University


ex-officio Director

Laurence Brunton, Ph.D.

Professor of Pharmacology and Medicine

School of Medicine, UC San Diego 


Associate Director 

Minou Djawdan Spradley, Ph.D.

Dean Engineering & Technologies, Math, Sciences and Nursing

San Diego City College


Business Contacts 

Wei Deng, Department of Pharmacology Business Officer, email:

Concepcion Sanchez, IRACDA Fund Manager, email:

Tom Kogler, Administrative Assistant, email:

 Mailing Address

  San Diego IRACDA Program

                            c/o JoAnn Trejo, Ph.D.
                            Department of Pharmacology MC 0636

                            9500 Gilman Drive

                            UCSD School of Medicine
                            La Jolla CA 92093-0636

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