The long term goal of the proposed program is to establish a dynamic nationwide mentoring infrastructure that will leverage existing resources and consortium of scientific leaders and professional organizations across a wide range of biomedical and biobehavioral disciplines to provide mentoring support to trainees from diverse backgrounds. Our proposal will be building on the innovation, scientific expertise, and diversity in racial/ethnic population served, and reach that already exist within two successful NIH-funded national research networks- the Community Networks Program Centers (CNPCs;23 centers) and the Geographical/Biospecimen Management of Cancer Health Disparities Program (G/BMaP;6 regions) networks. The CNPC and G/BMaP programs are designed to reach communities and populations that experience a disproportionate share of the cancer burden among racial/ethnic minorities and underserved populations through research, training, and community engagement. In addition, a number of CNPCs and G/BmaP centers have expertise in innovative and "best practices" mentoring practices that are scalable for national use;and several of these mentoring programs are proven for career advancement of individuals underrepresented in biomedical professions. The delivery of our mentoring programs will be organized around five regional hubs defined by geography and expertise with specific racial/ethnic minority groups, namely West (housed in Univ. of Washington/Colorado), Southwest (housed at UTHSC San Antonio), Deep South/South East (housed at USC/UAB), Northeast/Atlantic (housed at Temple), and Midwest (housed at Univ. of Minnesota). 1) normalize and solidify collaborative relationships;2) Identify and engage academic institutions, student and professional organizations;3) Map and fully assess existing mentoring capacity of institutions and/or organizations;4) Develop strategies to adapt locally-successful mentoring models and activities for use at a national scale;and 5) Identify and/or develop the infrastructur necessary to conduct or coordinate mentorship activities, including but not limited to mentor/mentee databases, websites, and virtual meeting capabilities.
Mentoring is critical for career advancement in virtually every professional discipline especially in the biomedical careers. However, for a variety of reasons, not all institutions or population groups are receiving maximal benefit from best practices already available to certain groups. There is therefore a critical need to develop mechanisms that would allow the assessment, development, implementation, and dissemination of mentoring best practices across institutions and professional disciplines.