For Trainees

Our lab thrives on the diversity of thoughts, expertise, and backgrounds, believing strongly that such diversity fuels innovation and discovery. Whether you're an undergraduate looking for your first hands-on research experience, a graduate student seeking to advance your dissertation work with cutting-edge methodologies, or a postdoctoral fellow aiming to broaden your research horizons and collaborative network, you'll find a welcoming and stimulating environment that values your contribution and growth.

Artificial intelligence (AI) - the GPT-4 large language model in particular - presents a myriad of opportunities to advance research and student training in the higher education system. It is therefore critically important that educators, students, and researchers in the fields of Brain Health and Cognitive Impairment in Aging (BHCIA) can learn, share, and utilize the skills required to harness the benefits of this powerful platform.

We believe that the current lack of systematic efforts to develop an AI-savvy workforce is a critical gap in competence and capacity building within the existing educational framework of BHCIA. This gap poses a significant risk to Canada's long-standing as a world leader in delivering evidence-based, innovative, and compassionate care for seniors living with cognitive and mobility impairments.

To bridge this gap, the OpenDH program aims to instill AI literacy in students and faculty mentors, as well as the larger aging research and care community. This will position students at the forefront of health research training and prepare them to contribute to advancements in BHCIA.

OpenDH, originally launched at the University of Calgary, is intended to expand the research and care capacities of BHCIA by extending digital health education to a large cohort of undergraduate students who are eager and motivated to contribute to patient-oriented research. OpenDH is built upon two complementary strategies:

Strategy 1 is aimed at creating a skill and knowledge hub with GPT-4 assuming the role of a vastly knowledgeable, articulate, and yet patient and tireless teacher. Domain-general and domain-specific content on knowledge creation, translation, and mobilization will be structured into an engaging curriculum and taught via a series of conversation modules, collectively referred to as WisdomWaves. Our pilot data shows that theoretically, an unlimited number of GPT virtual teachers can be deployed to trainees via existing university courses or through OpenDH Cafes and peer-to-peer coaching. OpenDH students will be required to actively seek internship opportunities offered by our BHCIA partners and organizations so that they can apply AI skills and learn how to resolve real-world challenges.

Strategy 2 seeks to build OpenDH as a virtual career incubator by creating a striving mentorship environment that champions self-growth, integrity, equality, diversity, and inclusiveness in career planning. The strategy will leverage the low barriers of entry, its non-intrusiveness, and the 24/7 availability of GPT-4. Additionally, this strategy will leverage GPT-4's flexibility in designing a digital mentor’s expertise, and flexibility in communication styles as a way to increase trainees’ self-confidence, stimulate their research interest, and foster their program participation and adherence to training topics that may be of an uncomfortable or sensitive nature. These may include EDI case analysis and self-reflections, or topics unsuited for real-world classroom discussions such as matters related to personal conflicts at workplaces.

We envision that the OpenDH program will lead to a significant enhancement in the productivity, competence, and capabilities of the current training system, and cultivate a new generation of trainees – trainees who are not only proficient in AI and diverse in educational backgrounds but are also EDI-savvy, self-motivated, eager, confident, and well-prepared for careers in research labs and community centers alike. Together and individually, they will elevate the existing CIHR training platforms to a new level and solidify Canada’s position as a programmatic, forward-looking leader in BHCIA.