The purpose of this project is to support short-term cancer summer research assistantships for students at the University of Medicine and Dentistry-New Jersey Medical School (NJMS), with the ultimate goal of increasing cancer manpower and stimulating them to engage in cancer research as part of their professional activities. The NJMS has a strong cancer research program supported by a diverse faculty who have been providing excellent interdisciplinary training experiences for students in this program since its inception in 1969. In the current application we describe the results of our recent longitudinal outcomes study that indicates that our program has been successful in achieving its goals, as well as describe the new and innovative approaches we are implementing to enhance the core research experience. The present proposal has four specific aims: (1) Continue providing a program of mentored cancer research consisting of an 8-week hands-on experience in a laboratory or other research setting with a faculty member along with a series of structured and new innovative educational activities. A total of 30 positions are requested for matriculated medical students and students entering medical school in the fall including those in the seven-year Baccalaureate/MD degree program. Based on experiences over the past five years, several enhancements to the current program are planned: (a) enhance the visibility of the program via a revised structure and leadership administered through the new NJMS Cancer Research Center, (b) include a short workshop on "The Responsible Conduct of Biomedical Research" and "Effective Poster Presentation Strategies" in addition to our existing symposia and weekly seminar series, (c) include attendance at the tumor conferences as part of the curriculum, and (d) include peer networking tools and mechanisms to enhance long term impact of the program. (2) Maintain progress in the expansion of minority student participation in the program. (3) Promote program identity and formative evaluation through new internet based tools. (4) Maintain and build on our existing databases and social network "Facebook" page to document long-term outcomes of the program. (5) Administer the web-based surveys we have developed to former participants in order to identify other benefits of the program.
Evidence to date supports the view that participation in research during medical school encourages further research activity and fosters interest in academic medicine as a career. The overall goal of the New Jersey Medical School Cancer Summer Student Research Program (CSSRP) is to provide mentored, short-term research experiences for medical students in a collaborative, interdisciplinary cancer research environment in an effort to foster careers in oncology research. Even for those whose careers take other paths, the expected benefits to public health lie in enhanced knowledge of the research process, and greater receptivity to new approaches to caring for persons at risk for, or living with, cancer.
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