The Iowa Biosciences Advantage (IBA) program operates under the aegis of The University of Iowa (UI) Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) grant. Its mission is to identify and competitively train academically talented underrepresented minority (URM) undergraduates who have aspirations for research careers in the biomedical, behavioral, and biophysical sciences. For these students, the IBA program facilitates entry into doctoral programs by: 1) tailoring the plan of study for each studen to maximize academic performance, 2) providing a competitive and relevant research training experience from among the vast bioscience research opportunities at the UI, and 3) assuring access to a comprehensive four-year path focused on professional development. In the last funding period, the percentage of IBA graduates matriculating into doctorate programs has increased from 11% to 15%. Initially, our main difficulty was in the identification of undergraduate students with aspirations for careers in research versus the health professions. Despite the fact the mentored research is consistently ranked by the students as the most rewarding aspect of the program, the length of time in graduate school and the inability to perform patient based research hindered their pursuit of doctoral degrees. In the proposed project period, our goal is to expand on the successful initiatives currently in place in the IBA program, and to further add a fast-track path to the doctorate and a Certificate program in Translational Sciences that are initiated by the IBA program but will be institutional in nature.
I Specific Aim 1, IBA will ensure successful preparation for pre-doctoral training, by fostering students'awareness of and interest in graduate education and academic/research careers, and enhancing the success of each student's application to doctoral programs in the biosciences by focusing on both academic and research development.
Specific Aim 2 will develop and implement a pilot for a fast track to the doctorate program that would facilitate early admission into and completion of a doctoral program in the biomedical, behavioral, or biophysical sciences at UI. This will entail allowing highly competitive IBA Scholars to enter a doctoral program in Microbiology or Biochemistry after their third year of undergraduate study, simultaneously completing the undergraduate degree and the first year of a graduate degree.
Specific Aim 3 will develop an undergraduate Translational Sciences Certificate program that would prepare students to transition from undergraduate research into doctoral programs focused on clinical and translational studies at CTSA-funded institutions, or other institutions that conduct translational studies. Utilizing faculty and staff expertise in outreach, selection, undergraduate student development theory and research, doctoral training, T32-based and other research funding, career development, translational research, responsible conduct in research, mentoring, and program evaluation, the IBA will benchmark success with at least 60% of IBA graduates going directly into doctoral programs.
The University of Iowa Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) is an undergraduate program that contributes to the national effort of increasing the numbers of underrepresented minority faculty, investigators and students engaged in biomedical and behavioral and biophysical research. The program introduces participants to research as early as their first year of college and matches them with faculty mentors to conduct research throughout their undergraduate tenure, and offers an early admission component for select students to begin doctoral studies. This program provides ongoing and intense academic and research support in an effort to increase the likelihood and rate of matriculation among underrepresented minorities to doctoral research programs.
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