Ponce School of Medicine (PSM) requests continued NIH/NIGMS support for its successful MBRS Minority Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) program which is about to enter the final year of its first cycle of funding. The overall goal of the PSM MBRS- RISE Program is to increase the competitiveness of underrepresented Hispanic students graduating from the Biomedical Sciences Ph.D program at PSM in Puerto Rico, and to increase the number of underrepresented students who advance to competitive postdoctoral positions. The PSM MBRS-RISE program (12 trainees) had a positive impact on the training of our PhD students and on the entire PSM community during the previous cycle. All trainees are effectively complying with criteria to remain in the program and are on track with the PhD program timeline;moreover several transitioned onto independent fellowships and are now graduating. Our program tangibly improved and achieved the benchmarks established in our first cycle of funding. We anticipate that this renewal application will build upon those successes and adapt to several important lessons learned, thus continuing our evolution from a "very good" to an "excellent" training program. The proposed application will further improve several areas of our already successful graduate program including the number of highly-qualified applicants, the availability of specialized graduate courses and workshops, financial assistance, mentoring in preparation for post-graduate professional plans, and refinement of our evaluation system to monitor our graduate students and provide direction for continually improving the training of our students. The program proposes to accomplish these goals through enhancement of the academic, research, personal, and professional competence of our underrepresented minority students to better prepare them for careers in the biomedical sciences. The specific measurable objectives of the PSM RISE program are to provide: (1) "hands-on" professional development and research skills training for PSM MBRS-RISE trainees;(2) communication skills training for PSM MBRS-RISE trainees;and (3) team building/networking opportunities for PSM MBRS- RISE trainees. Each of these objectives will be pursued with a balance of continuing activities that were highly effective as well as a strategic set of new training components that were developed to address the emerging needs of our students. The PSM MBRS-RISE program will work in concert with existing MBRS-SCORE and RCMI programs to significantly impact the overall research program by providing a better trained student workforce to conduct the funded research projects and provide the momentum to create new research initiatives.
The enhanced training provided by the PSM MBRS-RISE program will increase the number of Hispanic Americans doing biomedical research and encourage the growth of biomedical research in Puerto Rico. By contributing to a more culturally diverse research workforce, the program will foster biomedical research of minority health disparities.
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