Virginia Tech proposes to continue its successful Virginia Tech Post-baccalaureate Research and Education program (VT-PREP) for another four years by recruiting and preparing a total of 28 scholars for admission into highly selective biomedical and behavioral sciences doctoral programs at Research- intensive universities. The training plan includes a combination of educational, experiential, and social activities in a very supportive environment that ensures development of each scholar both academically and socially. The PREP program will be led by a three-member team of highly accomplished scientists with experience in training students at all levels including underrepresented (UR) minorities. The Management Committee (MC), which consists of the Program Directors (PD), co-PDs, the Advisory Committee Chair, and a General Advisor/Ombudsperson will guide the scholars through all aspects of VT- PREP. We will use our experience, which over the last funding cycle guided 76% of our scholars into Ph.D. programs at highly competitive, research intensive universities. Former scholars who participated in VT- PREP were accepted into highly selective doctoral programs including Yale, Columbia, Rutgers, Virginia Tech, Univ. of Chicago, and Northwestern. Seven former scholars from the first funding cycle of 2003-2008 have now earned their Ph.D.s and are engaged in postdoctoral research at top universities including Penn, Sloan Kettering, and UNC. Two former PREP scholars have been awarded F31 graduate fellowships.
Specific aims for this renewal include: 1. Recruit and enroll 28 minority students underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral sciences to participate in a 12-month transition program as research scholars. 2. Develop and implement activities and programs that will enrich and motivate scholars to pursue a research career in the biomedical sciences. 3. Increase the number of minority students applying for and being accepted into graduate studies in biomedical, behavioral, and life sciences, and related disciplines at VT and improve the campus climate for diversity. We will use our successful recruiting strategy to recruit 28 PREP scholars from those brought in for on- campus interviews. Our recruitment strategy of bringing in applicants at the same time or in overlapping groups provides the applicants a chance to immediately start bonding and recognize their shared goals as a cohort. Applicants get to meet with the PDs, MC members, other scholars, and potential mentors, and attend social events as a group. This establishes an immediate sense of community. The PDs will help PREP scholars develop their individualized development plans (IDP). Each VT PREP scholar will be actively engaged in mentored research activity (75% of their time) under the guidance and supervision of successful VT faculty in the biomedical and behavioral sciences with national and international reputations for advising, teaching, and research excellence. In addition, the scholars will participate in seminars, graduate courses, the biweekly PREP forum, and other activities on their IDP. Each scholar will have a peer mentor. We will continue to collaborate with the Graduate School and other units on campus;e.g., Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program (MAOP) will continue to improve the campus climate and the recruitment and retention of UR students. We will conduct annual Best Practices in Mentoring Underrepresented Minorities workshops for PREP mentors, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students to improve the campus climate. We will publish a peer-reviewed manuscript that shares the successful strategies of VT-PREP. We anticipate the following quantifiable and qualitative outcomes from implementation of the VT PREP objectives: 1) An increased proportion of applications from UR applicants to pursue graduate education in the biomedical and behavioral sciences at VT, 2) 75 to 100% of the VT PREP scholars will pursue graduate studies in biomedical and behavioral sciences at highly selective research institutions VT 3) An increased awareness of Virginia Tech graduate programs and the positive environment the university has developed for minorities. VT-PREP will continue to be a highly valued institutional partner with Central Administration, the Graduate School, and several colleges.

Public Health Relevance

The Virginia Tech Post-baccalaureate Research and Education Program (VT-PREP) will train underrepresented students in the biomedical and behavioral sciences so that they become competitive for admission into highly regarded doctoral research programs.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Education Projects (R25)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
National Institute of General Medical Sciences Initial Review Group (BRT)
Program Officer
Bender, Michael T
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Veterinary Sciences
Schools of Earth Sciences/Natur
United States
Zip Code