The United States has become largely dependent on a foreign workforce;this is strikingly becoming truer in academia and business/industry, given that the underrepresented minority population in the U.S. continues to grow exponentially, and high school and college graduation rates for minority students fail to improve. By 2025, more than 50% of all American high school (HS) students will be the children of today's American minorities-of those, 75% will be Hispanic. Only approximately 50% of current Hispanic students graduate with a high school diploma, compared to nearly 90% of White and/or Asian students. Barriers to success are many, and include cultural and socioeconomic disadvantages;public school systems without the resources to build on their students'potential;and lack of educational, extracurricular opportunities that historically have been available to successful, motivated students from middle/upper class school districts or private schools. Our minority students are an untapped resource, and it is imperative that we begin focusing on their academic and personal success, as it directly impacts our nation's position in the current and future global economy. We hypothesize that scientific achievement of underrepresented minority students will improve if scientific knowledge is communicated to them in a relevant and stimulating context and is reinforced by hands on experience in a research laboratory. We will test this hypothesis with the following specific aims: 1) We will recruit student interns from Los Angeles County high schools and provide them with active research laboratory experience under the mentorship of highly successful research training faculties. 2) We will provide the interns with lectures that instruct scientific knowledge and fundamental principals of scientific inquiry using pediatric disease models (case-based instruction). 3) We will assess learning of the scientific subject and evaluate the educational and career choices of students following completion of the program.
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