Training a diverse and competent scientific workforce is indispensable to fostering innovation and producing valuable biomedical research. Achieving this goal is also critical to finding the cure for diseases affecting human kind and eliminating health disparities that have become a burden to our society at large. For over a decade Loma Linda University (LLU) has partnered with the National Institute for General Medical Sciences to address this important national challenge. The LLU-NIH Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity Program (LLU-NIH IMSD program) has been successful in increasing institutional diversity. Further, implementation of an outcome-based educational plan has enhanced the success of students underrepresented in our biomedical/behavioral sciences doctoral programs. The IMSD program also has played a key role in the success of a robust pipeline that is nurturing socioeconomically disadvantaged and underrepresented minority (URM) students into biomedical doctoral careers. The long-term goal of the LLU-NIH IMSD program is to increase diversity at LLU by increasing the number of underrepresented students that complete a doctoral degree in the biomedical/behavioral sciences. The goal of this competitive application is to increase the average LLU URM biomedical/behavioral sciences doctoral degree graduation rate for the last five years by 50% within the next five years. This goal will be achieved by fulfilling two specific measurable objectives (SMOs). SMO 1 is to implement a co-curricular research education plan customized for IMSD trainees'needs that strategically address their career goals in the biomedical sciences. SMO 2 is to provide a continuous scholarly supportive environment for all IMSD trainees to ensure timely completion of their PhD programs and successful transition to postdoctoral training or other relevant career advancement. A cornerstone of the application's research education program plan is the implementation of Interactive Career Development Modular Workshops (IDC-MW) in scientific writing, team-based teaching, research plan development and grant writing skills, proper mentoring and coaching, effective curriculum vitae/resume development, interview mastery, time management, networking development, and principles of translational research. The IDC-MW is intended to address hurdles that hinder student's real potential to succeed as biomedical scientists. The incorporation of an Individual Development Plan (IDP) as part of the training program will strengthen the trainee's career goals and development. We anticipate that the implementation of the plan proposed in this application will foster career development of participant students and make our doctoral program more agile in training a diverse scientific workforce.
The training of a diverse and competent scientific workforce is indispensable for fostering innovation and progress in biomedical research. Achieving this goal is also critical for reducing the burden of chronic diseases associated with health disparities. The research education plan proposed in this application will foster the career development of a diverse body of graduate students from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds who will become part of the next generation of biomedical/behavioral scientists in the U.S.
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