A major goal of the RCMI grant to the Center for Study of Gene Structure and Function (Gene Center) is to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in science careers. Thus, a primary focus is the enhancement of research infrastructure within the Gene Center -- a diverse consortium of 53 biomedical researchers. Several activities complement these infrastructural initiatives including the Summer Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR). The program consists of an intensive 8-week research experience in which students conduct an independent research project with close supervision by a Gene Center faculty mentor. The program provides fellows with workshops on Research Animal Handling, Bio-imaging and Research Techniques as well as seminars by successful minority researchers. The seminar series will also cover science process skills such as scientific writing and critical reasoning. Participants present the results of their summer research to the Gene Center members and again at the Leadership Alliance meeting. As an addition to our current SPUR format, we propose to add 2 high school science educators. These teachers will gain valuable insight into how research is conducted at institutions of higher education. They in turn will develop a novel educational module with the goal of enriching high school science coursework. To further the mission of NIDA, the participants funded by this proposal will have a drug abuse/neuroscience focus as reflected by the research interests of our Gene Center investigators and the content of seminars and speakers. The strategic plan of NIDA is a comprehensive approach that includes research on prevention, treatment, consequences of addiction, and other cross-cutting priorities. The Gene Center investigators'own research parallels many of these areas and thus our program has the ability to contribute greatly to the mission of NIDA. Accordingly, the specific aims of the SPUR program are:
Aim 1. to provide 8-weeks of intensive hands-on biomedical research experience for 15 undergraduate summer researchers, 7 of which will be funded by this proposal.
Aim 2. to provide research and professional development instructional seminars to complement laboratory experience.
Aim 3. to utilize web-based technologies and resources to record and archive scientific presentations as well as develop collaboration and networking tools.
Aim 4. to support a curriculum development program for 2 high school science teachers.
This proposal addresses general public health by increasing the number of biomedical researchers that enter the workforce. The SPUR program aims to increase interest in biomedical research careers, with an emphasis on underrepresented minorities, by exposing undergraduate students and high school science teachers to an intensive 8-week summer research experience and complementary workshops.