The University of California, Irvine (UCI) Minority Science Programs (MSP) is nationally recognized for developing innovative programs to improve the quality and quantity of underrepresented community college (CC), undergraduate and graduate students being trained as the next generation of biomedical research scientists. The objective of the Bridges to Baccalaureate Program at UCI is to strengthen partnerships with four local community colleges (Cerritos College, Fullerton College, Orange Coast College and Santa Ana College) to jointly develop academic programs to interest, motivate and prepare underrepresented students enrolled at partner CC to transfer to science majors at 4-year universities and pursue biomedical research careers. Major components of the project are 1) integrated inter-institutional programs to identify potential candidates at CC for academic preparation and research training positions at UCI, 2) establish collaborations between faculties at CC and UCI to develop and deliver courses designed to enhance learning and critical thinking, 3) informational outreach to underrepresented CC students about careers in biomedical sciences, 4) academic preparation in challenging courses to be transferred to UCI and 5) advanced research training. Faculty workshops and focus groups will serve to improve inter-institutional articulation in science courses and preparation of students by discussing curricular sequence, normalization of curricula between institutions, use of technology in the classroom, instructional strategies that inculcate an interest in pursuit of advanced studies in the sciences and assessment. Over 30 UCI faculty with experience training underrepresented students will serve as research mentors. Bridges participants will experience the excitement of creating new knowledge in the course of conducting research. Research training components for Bridges participants include 1) a faculty seminar series, 2) a journal club to introduce scholars to critical reading of current biomedical literature, 3) workshops on responsible conduct of research, laboratory safety, and principles, instrumentation and techniques used in biomedical research, 4) direct participation in original research conducted under the direction of UCI faculty mentors, 5) preparation of papers, oral presentations and posters, and 6) presentation of papers at local and national conferences. 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 students from underrepresented groups and health disparities populations being trained as the next generation of biomedical research scientists.
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