Overcoming the cultural and socioeconomic barriers that prevent minority students from considering a graduate career is a challenge in the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV), South Texas. A student's decision is hampered by fear to leave their family, lack of role models with advanced degrees that provide confidence for success, and lack of knowledge on how biomedical studies are conducted. Recognizing these barriers to education a training core is seen as key component to the proposed Center of Excellence on Diabetes in Americans of Mexican Descent.
The aims of the Center of Excellence are to conduct research on the physiologic progression to diabetes and its complications among Mexican Americans, and to develop diabetes prevention strategies and test innovative approaches to effective interventions in a minority population severely affected by type 2 diabetes. This Center proposes an administrative core, a research core including three research projects and two pilot studies, a training core and a community engagement core.
The aim of the training core is to provide research training opportunities and resources that will motivate students to pursue graduate careers in biomedical sciences. We propose to provide three training positions each year, two for undergraduates and one for a masters or doctorate student. Trainees will work under the direct supervision of faculty from either The University of Texas at Brownsville (UTB) or The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, School of Public Health in Brownsville (UTSPH-B), who are investigators in this P20, and who lead diabetes-related research projects. As part of their training, students will also participate in a number of activities, including attending the Border Health Seminar Series, attending and participating in the weekly journal club, receiving training courses including one for preparation of the Graduate Record Examination, and visiting the Texas Medical Center in Houston to attend Research Day, meet graduate students, and interview with Admission's Committee members of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences program. We anticipate that these unique opportunities for students from the LRGV will motivate them to pursue careers that will prepare them to lead the local research programs aimed at understanding and controlling the diabetes epidemic that is so deeply-rooted in their community.
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