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, socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds or those who are challenged by a disability.
We aim to prepare recent college graduates from these groups to enroll and succeed in competitive PhD and MD/PhD programs, and then complete postdoctoral or residency/fellowship training before entering careers in which they can contribute to biomedical research, drug development, or research on health and health care disparities. Now in its 12th year, Mount Sinai PREP alumni have garnered 12 PhD degrees, with 2 of those students ready to complete their MD/PhD training this May, while completion of 4 more PhD degrees is also expected by the summer. During their pre-doctoral work, 20 Mount Sinai PREP alumni were supported by traineeships on T32 training grants, 9 were awarded F31 fellowships and many other prestigious fellowships were obtained, e.g. 3 UNCF-Merck awards. All the PREP alumni who completed PhD programs to-date have entered postdoctoral work: 7 in academic settings, with prestigious fellowships including the CDC Infectious Disease Fellowship and HHMI Life Sciences Award~ 1 at NIAID, with an IRTA award ~ 1 at the FDA with an FDA Commissioner's award, who is now a Pharmaceuticals Reviewer on the FDA staff ~ and 1 who pursued postdoctoral work at Glaxo-Smith-Kline. Enhanced recruitment efforts, program evaluation (self-evaluation and external evaluation) and ongoing program development have enabled the program to achieve and benefit from a large applicant pool and maintain an accept/enter ratio between 1 and 1.2. Central strategies of Mount Sinai PREP include the following. We strive to ensure that each PREP scholar has a laboratory placement with an excellent faculty research mentor, supportive peer mentors, and an opportunity to work on a cutting-edge project of interest that develops analytical, conceptual and technical skills. We expect PREP scholars to integrate into laboratory activities such as lab meetings, journal clubs, and parties. They are also expected to integrate into the PREP community and activities such as workshops that build research, presentation, writing skills, or initiate a discussion of psychosocial well-being. PREP activities also include peer-led WIPs/J. Clubs, lunches with advisors and guests with interesting paths to share, and encounters with PREP alumni. We further promote their integration into activities of the PhD, MD/PhD and master's student community of the Graduate School, which whom PREP scholars interact in courses, seminars, and both outreach and social activities. The Program joins a Regional PREP Symposium, at which the PREP scholars present their work and network. The Program will also follow up on a well-received 10 year Reunion-Retreat with a Reunion-Retreat every 5 years. The Program maintains close touch with PREP alumni through emails, reunions, alumni visits to speak to current PREP scholars and Program Director visits to them during travel to a nearby meeting.
Mount Sinai PREP seeks to increase the participation of individuals from underrepresented minority groups and socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals at the cutting-edge levels of biomedical research, and seeks to accommodate individuals with disabilities. Research shows that diverse groups function more effectively and innovatively than groups lacking diversity. Major benefits to public health will result from furthe diversification of the biomedical work-force and a diverse work-force will increased engagement and expert focus on problems related to health and health care disparities, which are in need of such focus.
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