Fisk University proposes to plan a novel accelerated Fisk undergraduate STEM (3 yr.) -Computer Science Master's (2yr) Bridge to a Vanderbilt PhD in Biomedical Informatics program in parallel with a real-time mentoring tracking system that adapts extant medical informatics tools to support reciprocal mentor-mentee interactions. Our BUILD Planning Grant addresses three key initiatives of the NIH: 1) Enhancing Diversity in the NIH-Funded Workforce, 2) nurturing individuals from diverse backgrounds across the lifespan of a research career, and 3) preparing an interdisciplinary workforce capable of fully exploiting the interrogation of Big Data for biomedical discovery. Our experience at Fisk, an historically black ( >95 percent URM ) primarily undergraduate liberal arts college, affirms that programs linking 3 years of undergraduate education to accelerated entry into engineering or professional training programs attracts our most talented and highly motivated students. Findings that minorities disproportionately obtain Master's degrees en route to the PhD in natural sciences led to the 2005 launch of the Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters-to-PhD program, with >92 percent of its entrants retained through PhD to postdoctoral or research positions. The BUILD planning grant will exploit the strengths of these programs and collaboration with the internationally recognized Vanderbilt Department of Biomedical Informatics (DBMI) to:
Aim 1 : Craft a Fisk STEM undergraduate (3 yr.)-Masters in Computer Science (2yr) Bridge to a Vanderbilt PhD in Biomedical Informatics. Academic and mentoring plan;
Aim 2 : Develop a plan to adapt DBMI-created tools for individualized health care and linkages to national clinical trials for seamless tracking of academic progress and local/national mentoring interactions in behalf of our Fisk-Vanderbilt trainees from undergraduate admission through the PhD, postdoctoral experience and early academic career, and Aim 3: Develop, implement, and analyze, in collaboration with the Institute for Broadening Participation, assessments that determine pre- College and early undergraduate awareness of the impact of Big Data on biomedical discovery and health care outcomes, and interest in careers in careers in these areas.
The findings of the BUILD planning effort will set the stage for a P20 application that develops nationally replicable models for minority training in STEM, especially careers that build discovery from 'Big Data', and portable integrated tools that track mentoring to assure sustained minority career retention and success. The Planning grant will make possible focused strategic planning that addresses the under-representation of minorities in biomedical discovery, and especially in using Bio Data to assure improved human health.