The MBRS-IMSD Program at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) started in 1996 as a comprehensive effort to increase the number of underrepresented minority (URM) undergraduate and graduate students pursuing biomedical research careers. During the last funding cycle (2004-07), the program has increased the rate at which undergraduate participants enter PhD programs following graduation and the number of URM students completing PhD programs at UCI. Independent paid research conducted under the direction of faculty mentors serves as a core element to induce MBRS students to pursue graduate school and research-focused careers. Over 100 faculty with funded research programs serve as preceptors of MBRS trainees. The program offers a series of components to increase the interest, motivation and academic preparedness of undergraduates (freshmen to seniors) to enter PhD programs in biomedical sciences, including a peer tutoring/mentoring program of science classes, a seminar series, workshops on laboratory methods, scientific communications, GRE preparation and application to graduate school. The graduate component of the program is designed to provide a comprehensive training for URM Ph.D. students to excel in graduate school. The program provides summer research training for incoming URM PhD students to prepare them for the core graduate classes, a workshop on extramural funding, counseling and orientation about the graduate studies in a non-departmental setting, a workshop to prepare oral exams after the first year in the PhD program and preparation for advancement to candidacy and dissertation research.
The inclusion of underrepresented minorities in the biomedical scientific workforce is critical to address the need of improving the health of the people of the United States and eliminating health disparities in the nation. This project will improve the quality and quantity of undergraduate and graduate students from underrepresented groups being trained as the next generation of biomedical research scientists.
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