Many talented minority students have the ability to do well in a biomedical science Ph. D. program, but either they do not have the necessary background or their credentials do not reflect their abilities. To provide deeper and longer exposure of bright, underrepresented minority students to biomedical science, the University of South Carolina established a PREP program that has increased the number of qualified URM applicants to biomedical Ph. D. programs by offering minority students the opportunity to work full-time in biomedical research laboratories while preparing for graduate school. To date 13 PREP scholars have been accepted into biomedical Ph. D. programs. The specific goals of the PREP program are: 1) To recruit qualified URs who have both a recent baccalaureate degree in a bio-medically relevant field and a strong commitment to obtaining entrance into a Ph. D. program in the biomedical sciences. 2) To improve research skills of PREP scholars through active laboratory participation in a mentored relationship with a faculty member and with graduate students/postdoctoral fellows. 3) To improve the analytical, English and quantitative skills of all scholars through hands on training, special course offerings, and participation in seminars and journal clubs so that all PREP scholars are competitive for acceptance to a well-respected graduate program as a doctoral student. 4) To help the scholars establish relationships among peers and faculty at USC and elsewhere in the research community so that the PREP scholar has well-defined career goals and a strong support network. 5) To help the PREP Scholars establish the credentials necessary for acceptance into a high quality biomedical science Ph. D. program. The goal of USC PREP is that at least 75% of the scholars will be accepted by such a program and that at least 80% will earn Ph.D. degrees in the biomedical sciences.
Minority groups are generally under-represented among scientists who are conducting biomedical research. However, research benefits from interactions among scientists with diverse perspectives. Therefore, increasing the pool of well-trained minority scientists will greatly benefit biomedical research.
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