The long-term goal of this proposal is to prepare trainees from underrepresented minority groups for careers as outstanding research scientists and leaders in the biomedical community. This training program will provide research and education opportunities in microbiology and immunology that are of direct relevance to many of the health problems that disproportionately affect minorities and medically underserved groups (e.g., arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, HIV and other STDs, and respiratory diseases). The program will create a highly cohesive cadre of trainees with shared scientific interests and experiences, and will leverage the outstanding training environment created by the University of Rochester (UR)'s Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute and multiple predoctoral T32 awards in microbiology and immunology. Trainees will also benefit from a planned expansion of research opportunities in the area of immunology and infectious diseases, and from strong institutional support for this established and successful PREP program. This program has three specific objectives. First, a supportive, productive, and exciting environment will be created, in which trainees will conduct outstanding research in microbiology, immunology, and virology while working as full-time laboratory technicians under the supervision of a program faculty member. This will be achieved by bringing together a highly interactive and experienced group of well-funded faculty concerned with the advancement of underrepresented minority trainees, whose research interests span a diverse range of topics, and whose laboratories use a wide array of experimental approaches.
The second aim of the program is to provide high quality educational opportunities that will prepare trainees for future doctoral studies. To this end, each trainee will perform an independent research project under the supervision of a faculty mentor. In addition, an individual plan of study will be developed for each trainee, tailored specifically to meet the unique needs of that individual. This will include a small number of carefully selected courses, designed to (a) provide instruction in needed skills/area, (b) demonstrate academic preparedness for doctoral studies, and (c) gain academic credit towards the Ph.D. at the University of Rochester.
The third aim of the program is to provide a highly enriched learning environment, with strong peer support. Enrichment activities will include instruction in scientific survival and communication skills, attendance at national scientific meetings, participation in an annual symposium and a GRE preparation course, and the opportunity to select, invite and meet with extramural seminar speakers. Finally a trainee social network will be created, and trainees will be matched with peer mentors for collegiality, collaborations and support. Individuals from underpresented minorities will gain the education and training that will allow them to acquire the essential academic credentials and research skills needed to allow them to enter and complete Ph.D. programs at select institutions. With these degrees they will be able to become productive research scientists in areas that address reducing health disparities.
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