ASPIRE! Peer and Near-Peer Mentoring Program

Accountability and Safe-space, to Promote, Inspire, Recharge, and Empower!

This service is provided by the TRANSFORM


The goal of ASPIRE! peer and near-peer mentoring program at the CTSA is to support early career faculty researchers from diverse backgrounds at Columbia University Irving Medical Center to enhance retention in academia, promote research career development, and strengthen mentorship satisfaction. Our group peer and near-peer mentorship approach fosters an atmosphere of support and collaboration through the following strategies:

  • Enhance academic skills for research career development
  • Provide supportive peer- and near-peer mentoring
  • Increase familiarity of Columbia research resources to support career development

Learn more about ASPIRE!

Scope of Program:

The ASPIRE! peer mentoring program will be tailored to participant needs based on responses to the application survey.

  • Interactive facilitated group sessions. The goal of these three 3-hour sessions is to increase awareness of research career development resources and strategies; network with peer and near-peer researchers; and increase confidence in success in an academic research career.
    • We will base topics on the needs assessment survey.  Examples of prior topics include “Finding your motivation” and “Mentoring journey: Building the right relationships.” Participants are required to attend at least 70% of sessions to proceed with peer mentoring group matching. 
  • Weekly peer and near-peer group and individual mentoring. We will form groups of 4-7 based on the needs assessment. Activities will be tailored to participant interests. ASPIRE! near-peer mentoring faculty will join some sessions to help resolve questions and provide an additional level of mentorship.
    • Weekly scheduled 30-minute peer and near-peer mentoring sessions to receive academic and career development support in small groups
    • Drop-in office hours with near-peer mentors available
  • Complete periodic session and program evaluation: To improve quality of current and future programming, we will ask for session and program feedback.


  • Early career faculty committed to an academic research career with an appointment at CUIMC at the Instructor or Assistant Professor rank (tenure-track or at CUIMC titles)
  • Those with a K award, Foundation Career Development, and/or a track-record of grant applications are encouraged to apply


We will announce the nest call for applicants in Winter 2024.


"That group of peer-mentors [in ASPIRE!] has been an invaluable source of support as I have further transitioned into independence. I was so happy to learn recently that the CTSA has committed to further expanding the ASPIRE! program, spearheaded by the original team." - Lynn M. Petukhova, PhD, Assistant professor of dermatology and epidemiology, CUIMC

Read her full story, "The Power of Mentorship"


622 West 168th Street
New York, NY 10032
United States

Leadership and Near-Peer Mentors

  • Brett R. Anderson, MD, MBA, MS

    • Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
    Photo of Brett Anderson
  • Lauren S. Chernick M.D., M.Sc.

    • Associate Professor of Pediatrics in Emergency Medicine
    Photo of  Lauren Chernick, MD, MSc
  • Teresa M. Lee, MD, MS

    • Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
    teresa lee
  • Stephanie Lovinsky-Desir, MD, MS

    • Herbert Irving Associate Professor of Pediatrics in Environmental Health Sciences
    stephanie lovinsky-desir
  • Gissette Reyes-Soffer, MD

    • Assistant Professor of Medicine
    gissette reyes-soffer
  • Marisa Spann, PhD, MPH

    • Herbert Irving Associate Professor of Medical Psychology
    Marisa Spann
  • Jennifer Woo Baidal, MD, MPH

    • Florence Irving Associate Professor of Pediatrics
    Photo of Jennifer Woo Baidal, MD, MPH

Cite it, Submit it, Share it!

If your research has benefited from one or more Irving Institute resources, please remember to:

Cite our CTSA grant in any relevant publications, abstracts, chapters, and/or posters.

Submit your publications to PubMed Central (PMC) for compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy.

Share your research updates with us by sending an email to: