The goal of this IMSD Proposal is to increase the number of students in graduate training who contribute to diversity in the biomedical research endeavor and promote their successful completion of the PhD degree. Our focus is upon students who have very strong letters of recommendation in terms of their research talents, but who because of weaker scores (GPA, GRE) might not gain admission into a strong biomedical graduate program. We describe a broad recruiting approach and a rigorous admission strategy. The students are extensively mentored throughout their time in the program to enable them to reach their full potential in a relatively short time period. They take an extensive and thorough didactic course in their first summer, along with a lab course designed to expose them to cutting edge technologies. This has the advantage of making these students highly competitive once they begin their rotations. The students are mentored very closely. This includes meetings with the program faculty for tutoring and advising on a weekly basis. In addition they participate fully in all of our mentoring activities for all first year biomedical graduate students. This includes a weekly IMPACT session wherein small groups of students meet with a faculty member to discuss any and all issues pertaining to graduate education, as well as a weekly FOCUS session wherein a small group of students meet with a faculty member to analyze and discuss a recent paper from the literature. Here the goal is to become entirely comfortable with gaining information from the literature rather than from a textbook. To enhance oral presentation as well as critical thinking skills, students participate in the IMSD journal club each spring. Finally, and in the long run most important, the IMSD students rotate through faculty laboratories as they choose the lab for their thesis research. We provide a performance-based program so that students exit the IMSD program after a one or two year period, depending on individual progress. So far all of our students are in good standing and progressing well, with one exception as a consequence of a serious illness.
This program is dedicated towards an important societal goal, namely increasing the number of UR individuals who enter graduate school to do research in Biomedical Science. We propose to do this by an extensive, creative and carefully mentored step by step process of research and training. The ultimate goal is to increase the number of these individuals in the Biomedical Workforce.
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