The Data & Design Core’s Research Incubator Program is a multifaceted program designed to offer hands-on project guidance and statistical support to accelerate the research activity of emerging scholars affiliated with the Eisenberg Family Depression Center.

Early-career investigators have many creative research questions that have the potential to substantially advance the field of depression research. Yet, there are often many hurdles in developing an impactful research program—including navigating resources, limited funding and protected research time, and lack of a research team, among others. The Research Incubator program addresses many of these gaps so that early-career investigators can make high-impact research advances more quickly and efficiently.

What the program offers: The Research Incubator program offers in-house statistical support and faculty guidance for research ideas from early-career faculty and emerging scholars. EFDC members are encouraged to apply if they have impactful research ideas but lack statistical expertise, are new to mental health research, and/or need support navigating the data landscape.

Read more about the program's background and inaugural cohort here.

We prioritize projects asking innovative, impactful research questions that can be answered using secondary data. We will consider projects that have original data, if data collection is completed and data are ready for analysis.

Interested participants can expect to gain access to valuable data resources, as well as our team's guidance and expertise to support your proposed project and your needs as a researcher. Read more about the program below.

Who can apply? The program is open to all pre-tenure trainees and faculty from across the University of Michigan.

What are the outcomes? With dedicated faculty mentorship and staff support, participants can expect to generate impactful work, including publications, and gain a supportive network and skill sets that lead to a robust research career.

Program components

The content and structure of the Research Incubator Program is tailored depending upon each individual's needs. Program participation will typically include:

  • Introductory intake meeting: Before program participation begins you’ll have an introductory meeting with the Core Manager and Lead Statistician to further understand your goals, timeline and resources for the project. During the meeting, we will review and refine your research questions, discuss potential data sources, and identify the outcomes you are hoping to achieve.
  • Research plan development: Following the intake meeting, our Lead Statistician will begin to develop a research plan, which will outline the project background, rationale and purpose, research questions and hypothesis, dataset characteristics, and specific research questions. They will develop and finalize this plan in collaboration with you.
  • Regular one-on-one support: Once your research plan is developed, our in-house Lead Statistician will lead analysis efforts. They will communicate with you regularly (approximately bi-weekly) to update you on findings as they unfold.
  • Cohort group meetings: Incubator participants, along with our Core team, will gather together as a group regularly (approximately every 6-8 weeks) to share project updates, discuss areas of overlapping interest, and give and receive feedback from one another.
  • ‘Wrap-up’ meeting: As your project nears completion, you will have a wrap-up meeting with our Core faculty and Lead Statistician to review findings and plan for dissemination and next steps.

Participants will be asked to complete a short survey before and after the program. Program participation typically involves 2-3 hours per week (including email communications, meetings and independent work) for 6-12 months, though time investment varies by individual project.

Anticipated outcomes

Our team will work collaboratively with participants to determine meaningful outcomes before the program begins. We expect that Incubator projects will produce important findings that can generate manuscripts published in high-impact journals and/or serve as preliminary data for successful grant submissions. We will also support other forms of publication, such as policy briefs or clinical guidelines if you are interested.

You will also meet and engage with other program participants, which may lead to new collaborations and other resources and benefits as an Eisenberg Family Depression Center member. Read more about member benefits here.


The Research Incubator Program is open to all trainees and early-career faculty from across the University of Michigan, including graduate students, clinical and research Fellows, Assistant Professors and Associate Professors (who are new to depression research). Participants must be a current EFDC member. If you are not a current member, your application to the Incubator Program will serve as your membership application, pending acceptance.

We prioritize applications that ask innovative research questions with high potential for impact. We also prioritize projects that can be investigated using existing secondary datasets. We will consider projects that have original data, if data collection is completed and data are ready for analysis.


Participants will be asked to provide a research idea or question they are interested in investigating when applying. If you have identified a datasource, please let us know in your application, though this is not required.

There is no cost to participate. If accepted, we will provide a written overview of the components and expectations that participants can share with the Department Chair/Division Chief if needed.


The deadline to join the next project cohort will be announced in early Spring 2023. Otherwise, applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. We aim to review applications and notify applicants within 30 days. Depending upon our team’s capacity, there may be times when we offer a waitlist.

Current projects include: 

Aurora Le, Ph.D. M.P.H., C.S.P., C.P.H. 
John G. Searle Assistant Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health
Project Title: Employment factors associated with opioid misuse and substance use disorder using the National Survey on Drug Use and Health
Michael Smith, Pharm.D, B.C.P.S. 
Clinical Associate Professor, Clinical Pharmacy
Project Title: Relationship of Depression, Centralized Pain & Medication Burden in Older Adults using DataDirect
Wei Zhao, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor, Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research
Project Title: The direct and indirect genetic effects on depression using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics
Peter Larson, Ph.D.
Post-doctoral Research Fellow, Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research; Adjunct Lecturer in Epidemiology, School of Public Health
Project Title: Climate change and environmental determinants of mental health-related Emergency Department visits


Contact information

For questions or more information, contact our team at