The continuing goal of our Bridging program is to train and develop talented underrepresented minority master's students to enable them to enter and successfully complete a biomedical Ph.D. at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB). We have had made tremendous progress in the initial funding period. In the first two years, we have enrolled 5 students into the doctoral program and over 10 in Bridges MS programs. Key features of our proposed continuing program will be extensive campus interactions to integrate the MS and doctoral programs, guaranteed admission and stipends for doctoral training, and utilization of grant resources almost exclusively on the MS campuses. New features we are proposing include adding Universidad Central del Caribe (UCC) as a new partner, agreements from our T32 program directors to appoint Bridges students, enhanced extensive formal and informal mentoring and providing activities to allow Bridges students to form a cohesive identifiable campus group. Our partnering schools in addition to UCC include three schools located in south Texas that have a high minority student enrollment, offer a terminal master's program and have research interests that make a productive partnership obvious and certain.
The specific aims of the program for the next funding period are to:1. Guarantee simultaneously admission into the Bridges MS and UTMB doctoral programs. 2. Expand the Bridges partnering schools to include the Universidad Central del Caribe, PR 3. Provide multi-level comprehensive formal and informal advising &counseling for Bridges students 4. Provide on-campus activities to Bridges students to increase group cohesiveness, while enhancing their development and building skills that will enable them to successfully complete a doctoral program and compete for careers in the biomedical sciences. 5. Enhance opportunities for MS students to conduct part of their thesis research at UTMB, while fostering research collaborations and enhancing the research capabilities of the master's institutions. 6. Expand well-established formal coursework in scientific integrity for all master's and doctoral students 7. Expand specific goals for both MS and doctoral students in the Bridges program and track measurable program outcomes. Key outcomes from the program will be: 1) increased transition of minority students from a master's program to a biomedical Ph.D.;2) successful and confident students completing the Ph.D. and emerging into biomedical careers;3) enhanced interaction between the MS partner faculty with faculty and research facilities at UTMB to improve the research capabilities and infrastructure at the partnering universities. The continuing goal of our Bridging program is to train and develop talented underrepresented minority master's students to enable them to enter and successfully complete a biomedical Ph.D. at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB). This will be done in cooperation with four institutions with large minority populations that will recruit talented minority students and provide them with fellowships. This program thus consists of a partnership that supports and facilitates the transition of minority students from a master's program to biomedical PhD programs, 2) focuses effort and resources to benefit largely the partnering master's institution and its students, and 3) enhances the competitiveness and confidence of the master's students so they can successfully complete the PhD.