The University of the Virgin Islands will build on its success in increasing the number of underrepresented minorities in biomedical research by developing a model program for similar universities across the country. The overall goal of the innovative planning process proposed here is to develop a transformative plan for exponentially increasing the number of underrepresented minority students going into biomedical graduate programs. This application builds on a solid foundation: in the last 10 years 27 UVI STEM alumni have earned PhDs and over 60 percent of MARC students go on to PhD programs. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Boston University School of Medicine have already committed to "two way" partnerships, and UVI students who have conducted research at these institutions are already in doctoral programs. An innovative plan for student development will be constructed during a four day Ideas Lab using a Creative Problem Solving approach whereby UVI faculty, staff. Partner Research Institutions and evaluators will come together, using data analyses, literature review, and personal expertise, to tailor an integrated program that will transform curriculum, pedagogy and co-curricular experiences to enhance student development. In preparation for the Ideas Lab, institutional data, complemented with surveys of faculty, students, alumni, and research mentors will be analyzed to better understand the barriers to recruitment and retention in STEM education at HBCUs. Also in preparation for the Ideas Lab, further research-intensive institutional partners will be identified who will collaborate with UVI to strengthen biomedical research infrastructure, undergraduate research opportunities and student development. Ideas such as active learning, deliberate practice, faculty development, and mentor training are have tremendous promise. UVI experiences, UVI programs working in synergy, strong partnerships, and exciting ideas from the literature coming together mean that UVI is poised to make transformative change. The Ideas Lab will be the first use of the Creative Problem Solving framework to develop an innovative plan to build students'identities as researchers and dramatically increase the success of minority students in biomedical research careers.
The outcome of this planning grant will be a catalytic BUILD program that not only increases the number of highly trained biomedical investigators from UVI but also serves as a national model for partnerships of small colleges and leading research institutions. This program will help fill the great need for increasing diversity in the biomedical workforce.