We are requesting continued support for the University of Pennsylvania's Postdoctoral Opportunities in Research and Teaching (PENN-PORT) Program, which provides a combination of a superb mentored postdoctoral research experience at the University of Pennsylvania with one of our distinguished investigators in the Schools of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and Dental Medicine, the College of Arts and Science or the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and an opportunity for postdoctoral appointees to develop teaching skills. Instruction in teaching consists of a formal semester long course in pedagogical methods from the Graduate School of Education at PENN as well as a mentored teaching experience at a minority serving partner institution, which takes place at one of the following: Lincoln University, the nation's oldest historically Black university, the Rutger University campus at Camden, and Delaware County Community College. The classroom teaching at the participating institutions is supervised by their most experienced teaching faculty. A major objective of the program is to encourage undergraduate students, particularly those from under-represented groups, at partner institutions to pursue a major in the sciences, graduate education in the biomedical sciences, and a biomedical scientific career. A further objective of the PENN-PORT Program is to increase the pool of well-prepared biomedical classroom educators who are also extremely well qualified research scientists. During the previous (and first) funding period more than half of the appointees to this program have been under-represented minorities. Thus we are also addressing the need to increase the number of minorities entering academic careers. Our third objective is to enhance research-oriented teaching at partner institutions and foster collaboration in research and teaching between the faculty at PENN and that of partner minority- serving institutions. In this funding period we have enhanced the research capacity of three minority faculty by providing a summer salary to spend the summer in a laboratory at PENN. The program has been externally evaluated by Integrated Learning Innovations Inc., who has identified challenges that we will address in the next funding period.
Diversity is critical to expanding our knowledge base, as it provides different viewpoints and approaches to crucial problems. This is especially important in areas such as biomedical research that provides advances in health care. However, under-represented minorities comprise only a small percentage of biomedical researchers in this country. The PENN-PORT program aims to address this problem and increase the number of biomedical researchers from under-represented groups.
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