The Lower Rio Grande Valley in south Texas is a natural laboratory to test the effectiveness and suitability of educational interventions to increae participation by underrepresented populations, particularly Hispanic students, in the biomedical research workforce. Traditional intervention strategies through programs such as MBRS-RISE and RIMI have limited success in our student population. Assessment of these and other programs, however, yielded valuable insights on the barriers that hinder our students from navigating towards a successful research career. Current initiatives in our department have focused on retaining promising students and we have found that intensive mentoring, active learning, supplemental instruction and structured authentic research experiences are critical components to steer students towards a biomedical research career. Based on these successes, the long-term goal is to develop a scalable, culturally sensitive, multifaceted and collaborative program that not only imparts necessary skills and competencies to succeed but builds self-efficacy and goal commitment to a career in the biomedical research workforce. In order to accomplish this goal we are proposing the following three specific aims: 1. to assess and leverage existing resources and build partnerships to sustain and expand UTB's efforts to promote underrepresented undergraduate students entering the biomedical workforce. 2. To determine the feasibility of using educational data, student surveys and other assessment instruments to identify more accurately students who are more likely to respond to, and benefit from the proposed educational interventions and continue on the path to thriving as biomedical researchers. 3. To develop, implement and assess various intervention strategies resulting in increased recruitment, retention, and competencies of underrepresented students to enter the biomedical research workforce. As part of the strategies we will (a) develop, implement and assess awareness and outreach program for student and families, (b) develop assessments of skills and competencies to provide for a more individualized summer research experience (c) establish the basis for a comprehensive mentoring program to support student goals and career development, and develop innovative research training and active learning space to foster student-mentor collaborations, problem-based learning and hands-on research experiences. This BUILD planning proposal will establish the framework to implement a culturally-sensitive and paradigm-shifting educational and training model to increase diversity in the NIH-supported biomedical workforce.
Implementation of novel approaches in the education and training of Hispanics that lead to the diversification of the NIH biomedical workforce is of critical importanc to maintain the competitiveness of health services research. This planning proposal will develop and assess a consortium and intervention strategies to significantly increase participation of underrepresented groups in the nation's biomedical research workforce.