The goal of this planning grant is to develop a consortium of institutions and work with them to create an action plan that will transform the way underrepresented minority students, particularity African Americans, are recruited and retained at both the B.S. and Ph.D. levels in science disciplines relevant to NIH-funded research. Xavier University of Louisiana is ranked #1 in the nation as the primary undergraduate source of African American Ph.Ds. in the life sciences. If the action plans developed are funded through a full BUILD grant in 2015, it will enhance Xavier's ability to build a larger, more diverse highly-trained biomedical workforce to an even greater extent. The current consortium consists of Xavier, Tulane University, and Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans, but we propose to identify at least two additional partner institutions that will participate in th full NIH BUILD initiative. Our objectives are to use our expertise and innovative strategies to focus on (1) developing a novel plan for enhancing undergraduate education, training, and mentorship, as well as faculty development to facilitate these approaches;(2) conducting capacity-building and infrastructure needs assessments at participating institutions for the collaborative development of novel strategies and processes for recruiting and retaining BUILD scholars and providing innovative educational, mentorship, and research training opportunities, (3) using Xavier's unique position and expertise to develop plans that will result in a measurable impact on the number of minority scientists who are entering the STEM research training pipeline and going on to research careers after graduate school, and (4) using the action plans developed through this planning process as the basis for Xavier's full application to the NIH BUILD program. Our approach builds on Xavier's unique expertise and innovative strategies for revising courses and curricula, strong mentorship intervention, and the University's rich history of collaboration with neighboring research-intensive universities as a starting point for addressing the unique and compelling need to promote diversity in the NIH-funded biomedical, behavioral, clinical and social sciences workforce.
Minorities currently represent an expanding portion of the U.S. population, and unless scientific education becomes more inclusive, our society will deny the talents of a large segment of our population. This grant will identify exemplary research and educational interventions that can be implemented at institutions across the Nation to increase the participation of underrepresented minorities in the NIH-funded workforce.