San Francisco State University (SFSU), the University of California, Davis (UCD) and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) called PhD Partners hereafter, have developed a cooperative graduate program to increase the number of underrepresented minorities (URM) that pursue biomedical research careers. Our program goals are to provide URM students with a quality and focused master's degree education at SFSU that prepares them to be competitive for acceptance and successful in top-ranked biomedical science doctoral programs. The objectives are to ensure that the master's degree Bridge students: 1) pursue a critical and exhaustive examination of discipline subject matter graduate courses that lead to an MA/MS degree in a biomedical science (i.e. biology, biochemistry or chemistry) in two-three years; 2) achieve competitive scores on their GRE exams to ensure acceptance into a high quality biomedical PhD programs; 3) receive intense advising and the support necessary to become confident and successful graduate students; 4) participate in significant research experiences and acquire the skills required to communicate the results of those experiences in the form of theses, presentations at national scientific conferences and in peer-reviewed journals; 5) develop strong skills in science writing, and 6) receive continual exposure to successful minority scientists to build the confidence they will need to become outstanding scientists. These objectives will be successfully met through the combination of an excellent curriculum, close and careful advising, workshops designed to provide the students with a well-rounded and in-depth knowledge of all aspects of biomedical sciences, and a nurturing and productive research experience with Bridge mentors. These activities will prepare URM students for entry into high quality PhD degree programs, and/or biomedical research careers. Sixty-four of our past MS/PhD Bridge to the Doctorate masters' students are currently enrolled in or have completed Doctoral programs at UC Partner campuses or other outstanding doctoral institutions. Nine other MS/PhD Bridge students who entered PhD programs withdrew for various reasons. Therefore, 87.7% (64/73) of SFSU Bridge students have persisted in pursuit of a PhD degree. Forty-three have completed doctoral programs to date (34 PhD, 4 PharmD, 4 MD/DO and 1 DVM). Six of the current MS candidates in the Bridge program will apply in 2014 for admission into PhD programs for fall 2015 and another three that have completed the MS degree will re-apply this fall. Thus, 114 graduate students have received Bridge program financial support since 1992. Eighty-five have entered doctoral programs or are currently supported on the Bridge grant (six second-year Bridge participants applied to PhD programs in fall 2013 and six second-year Bridge students will apply in Fall 2014 for entrance in Fall 2015). Thus, 79.3% (85+3/111) of all past and current SFSU Bridge participants are in positions to complete/enter doctoral degree programs. The remaining 23 students have gone into industry, RA positions at UCSF, UC Berkeley and Stanford U or teaching.
The SFSU/UC MS/PhD Bridge Collaborative Doctoral Program prepares master's graduates who continue into biomedical PhD degree programs in route to careers as research scientists. The partnership between the Minority Serving Master's I institution and two pre- eminent PhD granting institutions addresses workforce needs to prepare researchers to address health disparity issues.
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