This planning grant requested by The University at Texas at El Paso (UTEP) will focus efforts on the development of an innovative program called BUILDing SCHOLARS (Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity: Southwest Consortium of Health-Oriented education Leaders and Research Scholars). The long-term goal is to design a program that will train the next generation of biomedical scientists from US Southwest underrepresented groups through the creation of a multi-institution consortium to include Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.
The specific aims of the intended BUILDing SCHOLARS are as follows: (1) solidify the intra- and cross-institutional network and work together with leaders fro partner institutions to develop a highly effective program for training and mentoring undergraduate students;(2) conduct a formal capacities/needs-assessment of biomedical and socio-behavioral research training infrastructure at UTEP and partner institutions to inform the design of the program;and (3) develop strategic activities for the student training and mentoring aspect of the program.
The first aim will be achieved through a series of conference calls, virtual collaborative meetings and site visits and will culminate in a face-to-face workshop at UTEP with leaders from all consortium institutions to develop the strategic plan.
The second aim will be addressed through surveys of students and faculty members, and program director interviews at the primary and partner institutions.
The third aim will be achieved through the development of recruitment and retention strategies, a mentor training plan, an advisory committee, and an evaluation model. The activities are innovative in part because of the trans-disciplinary emphasis on Hispanic Health;the use of an assets bundling approach to overcoming research training barriers;integration of technology to link partners and enhance student connectivity;and development of courses (face-to-face, online and blended) that integrate disciplines and institutions. This planning application is significant because it takes a regional approach to designing a multi-institutional biomedical research training and mentoring program that will meet the needs of underrepresented groups concentrated in the US Southwest.
The public health relevance lays in development of research training infrastructure to increase diversity in the future NIH-funded workforce. This will lead to the recruitment of talented researchers, particularly Hispanics and Native Americans from the US Southwest. Diverse researchers are expected to improve the quality of educational environments, broaden perspectives, and improve capacity to eliminate health disparities.