Leadership Institute

Mid-career scientists face pressing career demands. As a mid-career professional who works within an academic institution, health care organization, foundation, government entity, or other setting, you likely fulfill research, clinical practice, teaching, or administrative roles. Increasingly, these roles require leadership specific skills and qualities. Stepping into leadership roles with training and guidance can strengthen your confidence and performance—and the Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) can help.

Recognizing leadership development as a critical member need, SBM launched its Mid-Career Leadership Institute in 2016.

Our past participants have used the skills they learned in the institute to take on new roles, lead new teams, and attain new promotions. Where are they now?

2024 Institute Overview

Applications for the 2024 Leadership Institute are now closed.

The purpose of the SBM Leadership Institute is to turn participant fellows into more effective leaders by fostering self-awareness and the development of leadership skills. At the conclusion of the year-long institute, both you and your organization will have benefitted. Throughout the year you will assess and deepen your inherent leadership qualities; acquire skills such as managing collaborative teams, influencing, and mentoring; connect with other mid-career professionals who share a desire to become highly effective leaders; and learn from and be mentored by leaders in the field of behavioral medicine.


  • The Leadership Institute is a year-long endeavor, limited to approximately 30 selected individuals.
  • Applicants must have paid their 2024 SBM membership dues by the time they apply.
  • The institute kicks off with an immersive, two-day workshop that takes place prior to the 2024 SBM Annual Meeting, on Tuesday, March 12 and Wednesday, March 13.
  • The institute provides mentoring and coaching throughout the year.
  • The cost is $1,900, including all materials, breakfast, and lunch; participants cover travel and lodging. This cost is reduced thanks to generous donations to SBM’s Leadership Development Fund.  
  • SBM will cover the 2024 SBM Annual Meeting registration fee for accepted institute fellows (a $485 value!).
  • SBM values diversity both in the field and as a contributing factor to a successful leadership development experience. Women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, and veterans are encouraged to apply.


Who is “mid-career”?

The meaning of “mid-career” varies across the range of behavioral medicine careers, hence we leave the determination to you, the SBM-member applicant. That said, the institute is most applicable to scientists with 8-20 years of work experience post-terminal degree who are assuming—or about to assume—more significant or expanded leadership roles. The institute could also be particularly helpful if you have reached your initial career goals and question whether it’s time to modify or change directions a bit—and how you might do that.

If I’m accepted, how will the Leadership Institute help me and my organization?

Starting in early 2024 institute leaders will:

  • Provide you with leadership literature.
  • Administer the Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation™ (FIRO®). Based on social needs theory, the FIRO® will help institute fellows understand how interpersonal styles impact leadership performance.

During the March 12-13, 2024, workshop, you will:

  • Become part of a small cohort that will stay connected throughout the year and teleconference with an institute mentor.
  • Enjoy networking with senior SBM leaders.
  • Learn who your professional coach is.
  • Acquire concrete leadership skills such as:
    • Managing collaborative teams
    • Mentoring
    • Influencing and negotiating
    • Navigating challenging interpersonal situations
    • Welcoming diversity and fostering inclusion
    • Understanding your leadership strengths, style, and opportunities
    • Having impact
    • Pitching yourself and your skills
  • Start identifying a leadership project with the opportunity to present it during the 2023 SBM Annual Meeting.

Throughout the institute year (March 2024 through April 2025):

  • Institute mentors will be available to your cohort for scheduled check-ins, helping you and your colleagues further develop leadership projects.
  • Leadership coaches will be available to you for three individual (teleconference) sessions, providing one-on-one encouragement and support.

During the 2025 SBM Annual Meeting you will:

  • Present your leadership project.
  • Be honored during an institute reception.

What do past institute fellows have to say about the program?

We’ll let them speak for themselves:

Elva M. Arredondo, PhD, on leadership assessments:
“The assessments that are part of the Leadership Institute provided me with valuable feedback that helped me understand my leadership style and the impacts on others. A lot of the feedback I received was useful, but one piece of feedback that stood out was learning that I could do a better job in communicating my vision to my team.”

Randal Wada, MD, on building leadership skills:
“At this stage in my convoluted career trajectory, learning about leadership is more important to me than learning about science. Thanks to the institute, I can say that I will be better at leadership tomorrow than I am today.”

Karen Mustian, PhD, MPH, on the leadership project:
“The end of that project culminated in me presenting an overview of our [cancer] research program to our senior [institutional] leadership and creating an ‘ask’ to grow the program. This resulted in my obtaining almost a million dollars in new support for our group.”

Olivia Affuso, PhD, on coaching:
“I've had my first call with my coach and I just love her! She helped me see why I have been struggling by graphically illustrating my many commitments. My focus now is on reducing some of the workload by either stepping down or delegating tasks. I have already made some changes and can feel the difference in my work.”

Lynette Craft, PhD, FACSM, on coaching:
"Part of our time together was spent working on how I can better manage the groups I'm in charge of. A lot of what we talked about was perspective taking. As leaders, we have to get our work done but we also need to understand the perspectives of others, especially when working with volunteers. ... It was helpful to discuss strategies."

Corrine Voils, PhD, on workshop sessions:
“The session reminded me that building diverse, inclusive, highly-functioning teams depends, in large part, on effective leadership. … I’m grateful to SBM for these opportunities.”

Robert Newton, PhD, on workshop sessions:
“The Leadership Institute has been exactly what I needed and more than what I expected. I immediately implemented strategies we were taught during the workshop: arranging my day, how to handle emails, and mobile phone use at work.”

Support a Fellow

Sponsoring an SBM Leadership Institute Fellow ensures the next generation of leaders in behavioral medicine have both the tools and the confidence to guide our field into the future. The vast majority of our fellows personally fund the tuition for the Leadership Institute. Your support will help cover one fellow's institution tuition and travel expenses. If you’re interested in supporting a fellow at the 2024 Leadership Institute, please contact SBM Senior Program Manager Andrew Schmidt.

Corporate Support - 2024 Support Opportunities Guide and Prospectus

View Past Leadership Institute Fellows

2023-24 Leadership Institute Fellows
2022-23 Leadership Institute Fellows
2021-22 Leadership Institute Fellows
2019-20 Leadership Institute Fellows
2018-19 Leadership Institute Fellows
2017-18 Leadership Institute Fellows
2016-17 Leadership Institute Fellows

View Past Leadership Institute Projects

Amanda S. Birnbaum, PhD, MPH
Lisa Cadmus-Bertram, PhD
Lynette L. Craft, PhD, FACSM
David X. Marquez, PhD

View the Leadership Institute Special Section

Translational Behavioral Medicine, Volume 10, Issue 4, August 2020