The long term goal of Mount Sinai's Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program (Mount Sinai PREP) is to make a significant contribution to increasing the number of biomedical scientists from underrepresented minority groups, disadvantaged backgrounds or those who live with the challenges of disability.
We aim to prepare recent college graduates from these targeted groups to enroll and succeed in highly competitive Ph.D. or MD/Ph.D. programs so that they go on to develop independent research careers after their postdoctoral or residency/fellowship training. Now in its 8th year, Mount Sinai PREP has a strong and growing record of application and enrollment of its participants in excellent Ph.D. and MD/Ph.D. programs. Of the 26 who have enrolled in such programs, over 92% have progressed well. They are all supported by fellowships and traineeships, including 12 T32 traineeships and 6 F31 fellowships from NIH. The first Ph.D. awards are occurring with excellent time-lines and records of accomplishment this spring. Mount Sinai PREP has enhanced its recruitment of applicants to promote consistent enrollment of PREP participants whose motivation and levels of academic and research potential support their aspirations for research careers. PREP has also further enhanced its successful program strategies. Central strategies include: (i) ensuring that all PREP participants undertake a mentored research project in which their analytical, conceptual, and technical abilities are fostered;(ii) ensuring that they integrate fully into the laboratory group and culture, increase their ability to use and critique primary research literature and their ability to present their work;(iii) providing individualized help to eliminate gaps, impediments or health issues that might impede success;(iv) fostering the ability of PREP participants to succeed in rigorous doctoral level course-work. Important additional PREP strategies include: (i) acclimatizing the PREP group to the environment of a major academic medical center;(ii) encouraging interest in health and health care disparities through projects and grand rounds of the Center for Multi-Cultural and Community Affairs along with other student groups;(iii) networking them with Mount Sinai PREP alumni, "Friends/Outside Advisors" of PREP and other professionals whose stories inspire and advice is worthwhile. We continue to closely monitor, mentor, and interact with Mount Sinai PREP alumni. We enjoy the presence of 12 of them in programs on our campus, and expect some of them to become faculty colleagues and future PREP leaders.
The PREP initiative seeks to increase the participation of individuals from underrepresented minority and disadvantaged as well as disabled individuals at the cutting-edge levels of biomedical research. Major benefits to public health will result from diversification of the biomedical research work-force because research practitioners from communities that struggle with negative health and health care disparities are highly motivated to undertake projects that address these disparities and projects that yield new therapies or preventive strategies for major health problems or illness of their communities. Diversification of the research workforce at the professoriate level will also address disparities in access of young people from similar backgrounds to high quality science education, thus increasing the rate of these positive changes.
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