The SMART PREP at BCM will continue to provide research and educational opportunities to better prepare promising underrepresented (UR) college graduates to enter and succeed in biomedical related Ph.D. programs and progress into biomedical research careers. BCM is ranked in the top 10% of US graduate schools granting biomedical Ph.D.s. BCM UR Ph.D. student enrollment increased by 400% from 1998 to 2007. UR students maximize their potential through individual development plans (IDP) and are often ranked among our best Ph.D. and MD/Ph.D. students. Creating IDPs for PREP apprentices is a key component of our PREPs. Participants will work 30 hrs/week as apprentices and conduct research at the frontier of biomedical science. Apprentices will participate intellectually in the research through directed reading of scientific papers, lab meetings, journal clubs and seminars. A research project will provide opportunities for apprentices to progress toward more independent function developing hypotheses, designing and conducting experiments, interpreting data, drawing conclusions and contributing to the preparation of a manuscript describing the work. The culmination of the project will involve summarizing the research in the form of a manuscript, to provide an experience that reflects the processes of scientific discovery and publication. Apprentices will build their knowledge in molecular and cellular biology (MCB) through a course that emphasizes experimental approaches, quantitative skills, ethical decision-making, URM health disparities and the contributions of URM scientists. There are 83 URM Ph.D. and MD/Ph.D. students enrolled in BCM programs. Some of these students will be selected as guest lecturers to present a "research relevance" for some MCB classes. Weekly analysis and problem solving meetings will enhance the ability to read and analyze the scientific literature and research with an emphasis on quantitative and writing skills. GRE preparatory workshops, graduate school application workshops, ethics and safety training, and skills building workshops will provide additional training in skills needed to succeed as a scientist. Individual or group tutoring and instruction will be provided in English, math or physical sciences as needed. Faculty and Ph.D. student mentoring and attending a UR student organization meetings, fall welcome and spring graduation receptions, and scientific conferences will help inspire and motivate participants to strive for excellence as they become members of the scientific community. Progression into Ph.D. programs will be facilitated by interacting with program directors (T32 training grant supported and other Ph.D. programs) through receptions and meetings with program directors and Ph.D. students. Formative and summative evaluations will assess progress and performance of apprentices, mentors, staff and the impact of the program on the institution and achievement of goals of the MORE Division of NIH, to diversify biomedicine. The BCM SMART PREP will enhance education of under-represented (UR) students and their progression into Ph.D. biomedical programs. These apprentices will develop the background to work on diseases that disproportionately affect minorities, serve as role models for UR students, help educate their communities about biomedical research and health care developments.
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