The Center for Improving Care Delivery for the Aging (CICADA) is one of a national network of 18 Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research (RCMAR) funded by the National Institute of Aging (NIA). CICADA’s essential goal is to recruit, mentor, and develop individuals from underrepresented backgrounds into accomplished, independent research scientists. We focus on the discipline of health services research, concentrating on the organization, financing, and delivery of health care for older adults. This process begins by funding pilot research projects undertaken by RCMAR Scientists. This is accompanied by extensive mentoring, research training, career support, and skills development opportunities. Since its founding 21 years ago, more than 400 research scholars have come through the RCMAR program, most going on to academic research careers.

“I am deeply grateful to be an alum of the CICADA program and credit it with a lot of my development as an aging researcher and assistant professor. Our mentors are top-notch and continue to be devoted to our success as researchers in both formal and informal ways. In addition to learning through formal workshops how to navigate academia, effectively present research, and secure research funding, we received feedback on research and coaching for interviews.  I also found valuable the monthly meetings where fellow CICADA scientists shared research; because of our diverse research interests, I gained insight into other aspects of aging research.”

Salama Freed

Salama Freed, PhD, MS, Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management, George Washington University

“This experience not only provided the necessary research funding, mentoring, and training support, as a Penn CICADA Scientist, my peer network expanded significantly to include collaborations with health services researchers and multidisciplinary colleagues in aging that continue beyond the scholarship period. These meaningful connections and resources have been the key to achieving academic career goals, transitioning from assistant professor to tenured associate professor in the School of Nursing, and most importantly, to strengthening my current work to include sustainable and equitable approaches to HSR community-based research that impacts the lives of Latino elders and their families.”

Adriana Perez, PhD, CRNP, Associate Professor, Penn Nursing

“When I was applying for the CICADA program, I hoped to receive mentorship from knowledgeable senior scientists and funding to support my proposed research.  I did receive that mentorship and funding, which served to further my career and grow as an independent investigator.  What I didn’t expect was getting to become part of a compassionate, dynamic community of peers.  My fellow CICADA alumni are my collaborators, co-authors, and co-investigators; they are my friends, role models, and support system.  Being a part of CICADA was life changing!”

Eleanor Rivera, PhD, RN, Assistant Professor, Nursing, University of Illinois Chicago

“CICADA has been committed to my professional success from the first day that I began my tenure as a CICADA Scientist in 2018 till today, years beyond completing my tenure as a CICADA scientist. Over the years, I have received in-depth mentorship and sponsorship such as faculty search guidance, career development award application support, facilitation of networks and collaborations, and provision of important resources that I would have not had access to outside of CICADA, that have all been instrumental to the work that I do today.”

Jasmine Travers

Jasmine Travers, PhD, RN, Assistant Professor, Nursing, New York University

How to Apply

CICADA selects three new RCMAR Scientists each year through a competitive call for 1-year pilot grants. The 2021 application season begins on October 1, 2021. Applications are due December 10, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Successful applicants will be notified of funding by February 1, 2022, with funding to begin July 1, 2022.


Who is Eligible to Apply to Become a CICADA Scientist?

Applicants must be post-doctoral researchers and junior faculty who are underrepresented in research. This includes (1) MD and MD/PhD clinical fellows who have completed their residency; (2) PhD postdoctoral trainees; and (3) MD/PhD, MD, and PhD junior faculty [instructors or assistant professor for less than three years at time of application] who are underrepresented, based on the NIH’s Diversity Statement.

Applicants must be committed to developing new research skills in health services research focused on aging. Applicants can be affiliated with any U.S. university and is not limited to those with Penn affiliations.

What is the focus of CICADA pilot project?

  • Support will be given for pilot research projects that are focused on issues of health care quality, access, affordability, and/or equity for older adults using the methods of health economics or health services research.
  • Projects that leverage the data in available through LDI and CICADA’s Analysis Core will be given priority. More details on these resources are available online.
  • The proposed project should lead to publication of at least one first-authored, peer-reviewed manuscript. Priority will be given to projects that will lead to subsequent funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), particularly the National Institute on Aging (NIA).

What Resources are available to CICADA Scientists?

  • Funding of up to $35,000 to complete a one-year research project
    • Research funds can support salary, research expenses, travel, equipment, and/or supplies as appropriate to the project.
    • Any sub-contracts for work conducted outside of the PI’s home institution (including indirects; the indirect rate for this funding mechanism is 8%) must be included in the budgeted amount.
  • Mentoring, including:
    • Standardized mentoring protocols, including goal setting and group mentoring meetings, as well as personnel and collaborator management
    • Professional development, including job talk or presentation preparation
  • CICADA-specific programming, including:
    • Monthly seminars from CICADA’s expert faculty, including statistical analyses plans, effective presentations, and data management
    • Works in Progress meetings to discuss research findings
    • Academic and professional networking opportunities
    • Grant-writing resources
    • Research award administration and research project management
  • Appointment to Penn LDI as a Fellow, including all resources available to LDI Fellows.

Who can I contact for more information?

Please contact

Current CICADA Scholars

2022-2023 Cohort

Yehoda Martei

Yehoda Martei, MD, MSCE

Assistant Professor, Hematology/Oncology, Perelman School of Medicine

Anarina Murillo

Anarina Murillo, PhD

Fellow, Center for Improving Care Delivery for the Aging (CICADA), Perelman School of Medicine

Onome Osokpo

Onome Osokpo, PhD, RN

Postdoctoral Fellow, Biobehavioral Health Sciences, Penn Nursing


Rachel Werner

Rachel M. Werner, MD, PhD

CICADA Co-Director, Administrative Core Co-Director

Allison Willis

Allison Willis, MD, MS

CICADA Co-Director, Administrative Core Co-Director

Julie Szymaszek, MA

CICADA Administrative Director

Meghan Lane-Fall

Meghan Lane-Fall, MD, MSHP

CICADA Research Education Component Co-Director

Mary Naylor

Mary Naylor, PhD, RN

CICADA Research Education Component Co-Director

Norma Coe

Norma Coe, PhD

CICADA Analysis Core Co-Director

Rebecca Hubbard

Rebecca Hubbard, PhD

CICADA Analysis Co-Director

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