The University of Missouri-Columbia (MU) proposes to identify, provide financial support, and train a total of 26 students from groups dramatically underrepresented in the biomedical sciences in order to prepare them to successfully enter and complete a PhD program in a biomedically related discipline at MU or any other highly competitive research intensive institution. The MU PREP is also designed to begin to prepare PREP Scholars for eventual entry into biomedical research careers in areas that address major health problems in the U.S. (e.g. cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer) with an emphasis on health problems that disproportionately affect portions of the U.S. population. This proposal presents a coordinated plan to strengthen the research, academic, and personal interaction skills of promising and talented baccalaureate graduates by immersing each Scholar in an independent research project with a faculty mentor and providing a coordinated academic and personal support system. Specific MU PREP components include: design and completion of an independent research project;strong research mentoring by committed faculty, aided by prior training of faculty mentors;training in responsible conduct of research and scientific expression;critical thinking and analysis modules;peer and group mentoring;practice writing and critiquing papers and grant applications;and presentation of their research results at national/international meetings in the discipline. PREP Scholars should thus begin their PhD programs with advanced research skills, with a faculty and peer mentoring system in place, with connections to a broader discipline beyond MU, and with lasting friendships with other graduate students in the life sciences. The MU PREP program will be carefully coordinated with MU's high school, undergraduate and PhD programs for underrepresented students thereby advancing MU's comprehensive effort to increase the number of scholars from underrepresented populations in the biomedical sciences. Successful parts of this program will be institutionalized and disseminated as a model for other institutions.
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