This proposal requests continuation of the PERT Program (Postdoctoral Excellence in Research and Teaching) based on its aims, achievements, and planned refinements. The Program's stated goal is to intensify participation of underrepresented minority undergraduates in life science, biotechnology education with the purpose of increasing these groups in academic, medical, and biomedical industry-related careers. The University of Arizona (UA), a research university, and Pima Community College (PCC), a Minority Serving Institution (MSI), have shared a vigorous 9-year partnership in which PCC faculty train PERT Fellows in teaching and mentorship. The proposal requests continuation of that partnership. UA faculty train PERT Fellows for tenure-track careers. The 3-year program efficiently integrates independent research, classroom teaching, undergraduate mentorship, organizational and administrative skills. PERT Fellows audit for one semester the PCC course they teach the following semester under PCC mentor supervision. Comparisons show that PERT Fellow peer-reviewed publications exceed those of UA control group trainees not teaching so evidencing the ability PERT Fellows to sustain intense research alongside effective teaching. Over 70% PERT Fellows achieve tenure-track placement within the 3-year Fellowship. Life sciences curricula at PCC benefit from high-level commitment of PERT Fellows in classroom teaching, course development and investment of state-of-the-art laboratory equipment. The current proposal expands pedagogical training to three further MSI campuses. The program supports MSI faculty career development. Research experience of MSI students inspires their confidence and enthusiasm and has a crucial trickle-down effect to their peers. This and the intense involvement of PERT Fellows in minority education has increased MSI student transfer to UA and MSI students entering biotech and biomedical careers. The Program benefits postdoctoral trainees, MSI faculty, the UA postdoctoral community and faculty. It significantly boosts career placement of its Fellows. PERT Fellows foster UA-wide collaboration and appreciation of the educational needs of under-represented minorities.
The relevance of the PERT training program to Public Health is its focus on biomedical education of Hispanic Minority students at a Minority Serving Partner Institution with the aim of preparing this group for transfer to Universities and to Medical School, as well as entry to related biomedical professions. PERT will also train outstanding postdoctoral fellows for positions in the biosciences in institutes of higher education.
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