TRN Pilot Awards

The TRN supports pilot projects each year, targeted for postdocs or early career investigators who will benefit from the network and mentoring. Pilot projects should address scientific gaps in relation to telomere length (TL) as it applies to epidemiological research. The projects can include secondary analyses of large samples (>200) that examine novel questions about the relation between TL and health or an exposure. Awardees receive an honorarium and travel support to present at the annual TRN meeting, along with mentorship from experts in the telomere field. These projects are intended to provide investigators with pilot data to support future grant applications, as well as addressing the goals of the network.

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2021 Awardees

In 2021, the pilot projects are again focused on a broad conceptualization of the exposome, as described below. Telomere length may have unique utility for understanding exposome factors such as psychosocial stressors and psychological responses, and chemical/environmental inputs, including during pregnancy. The 2021 awardees are listed below. 

Candace J. Black, PhD: Variation in biological embedding of stress among Syrian refugee children

Mentor: Michael Pluess

Lauren Gyllenhammer, PhD: Racial & ethnic differences in and prenatal determinants of newborn telomere length

Mentor: Sonja Entringer

John Leri, PhD Student: Impulsivity and telomere length during adolescence

Mentor: Darlene A. Kertes

Calen P. Ryan, PhD: Exploring the links between ovarian aging and somatic aging in humans: A study of leukocyte telomere length across the menopausal transition in a Philippine cohort

Mentor: Chris Kuzawa

Robert Tennyson, PhD Candidate: Maternal early life stress and offspring telomere length in a longitudinal and multigenerational cohort study in the Philippines: Examining intergenerational links and physiological pathways

Mentor: Dan T. A. Eisenberg

Yiqiang Zhan, PhD: An atlas of environmental risk factors for telomere length using the Mendelian randomization approach

Mentor: Sara Hagg

2020 Awardees

In 2020, the pilot projects were focused on a broad conceptualization of the exposome, with a particular interest in relations between exposures and TL across the life span. The 2020 awardees are listed below along with their presentations at the annual TRN meeting. Video recording of these presentations at the TRN meeting can be viewed here.

Muhammad Asghar, PhD: Long term cost of infections on telomere shortening

Jonathan Boss & Emily Roberts, PhD Candidates: Exposure to carcinogens and racial differences in leukocyte telomere length

Mentor: Belinda Needham

Presentation at the 2020 TRN Meeting

Lauren Brown, PhD: Telomere length and the stress pathways to race/ethnic health disparities among older adults

Presentation at the 2020 TRN Meeting

Rosemarie de la Rosa, PhD: Measuring the joint effect of air pollution and psychosocial stress on telomere length

Presentation at the 2020 TRN Meeting

Mentor: Neeta Thakur

Stephanie Eick, PhD: Mixture effects of per- and poly- fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and psychosocial stressors in relation to maternal and newborn telomere length

Presentation at the 2020 TRN Meeting

Mentor: Rachel Morello-Frosch

Waylon Hastings, PhD: Comparing telomere length and a methylation-based estimator of telomere length in a cohort of maltreated children

Waylon’s study plan is preregistered here.

Presentation at the 2020 TRN Meeting

Mentor: Idan Shalev

Farah Qureshi, ScD: Exploring links between newborn telomere length and trajectories in adiposity during the first decades of life

Mentors: Mandy Belfort, Henning Tiemeier

Presentation at the 2020 TRN Meeting

Aaron Reuben, PhD Candidate: Evaluating childhood lead exposure implications for long-term telomere attrition

Mentor: Terrie Moffitt

Presentation at the 2020 TRN Meeting