A Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) was inaugurated in 2009 at the University of Michigan to increase the ability of under-represented (UR) students to be accepted into and succeed in obtaining doctoral degrees from excellent doctoral (Ph.D.) programs in the biological, bioengineering, biophysical, bioinformatics, chemical and biomedical disciplines throughout the country. With this renewal application, including the appointment of Dr. Nils Walter, Professor of Chemistry and Biophysics, as Associate Director, we are making a major effort to extend the program to the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA). In support of this effort, Dr. Jeannie Hernandez, Assistant Director, is an American Cancer Society Fellow in the Department of Chemistry, performing innovative cancer studies in Dr. Brent Martin's lab. Through a combination of NIH support and institutional support, PREP trainees will receive training in research in: 1) biomedical sciences, biological engineering and chemical engineering in the Medical School and College of Engineering; 2) Chemistry and Chemical Biology in the College of LSA; 3) Medicinal Chemistry in the School of Pharmacy; 4) Computational Biology through the campus wide program in Bioinformatics; and 5) public health disciplines, including epidemiology and biostatistics in the School of Public Health. A second year of PREP support will be available to trainees who are not admitted to excellent programs in these disciplines after their fist 4.5 to 5 months in the program (i.e. in ?year one?). These students can remain in the program for a second year of research training, insufficient research experience being the usual reason such students do not achieve graduate admission in year one. Over the six years of the MI PREP program, only three trainees have needed this second year. The University of Michigan has a strong history of encouraging undergraduates to engage in research careers and in recent years has gained national attention through its commitment to recruiting a diverse and talented student population at all levels (from undergraduate to graduate programs to professional programs). This commitment has been renewed this year in a major Diversity Initiative led by the new University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel, M.D. Ph.D. (www.diversity.umich.edu). The Principal Investigator for this proposal, Dr. Kate Barald, is a member of the newly formed commission as well as serving as the Rackham Graduate School Faculty Ally for Diversity in Cell and Developmental Biology and Biomedical Engineering. Dr. Nils Walter, Associate Director for PREP, is the Faculty Ally for Diversity for the Department of Chemistry in LSA. In the biosciences, engineering and public health, there are extensive research opportunities for PREP trainees and strong and coordinated graduate programs in all these disciplines that have been successful in recruiting and graduating a diverse student body. UM has ranked in the top 10 among universities granting doctoral degrees to under-represented students for almost 15 years. This proposed continuation and expansion of the current, highly successful PREP at Michigan, with help from the College of Engineering, the Medical School and the Rackham Graduate School, will provide promising under-represented students from around the country with the needed preparation both to apply successfully to strong graduate programs and to succeed once they matriculate.
This proposal directly addresses the objectives of the current PREP program announcement from the NIH. Students of diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds as well as disabled and economically disadvantaged students are severely under-represented in Ph.D.-level research positions that investigate issues of human health ranging from the biosciences to biological and chemical engineering, and in public health disciplines, including biostatistics. Since its inception in 2009, Michigan PREP prepares under-represented students for graduate school across a wide range of disciplines in the Schools of Medicine, Public Health, Pharmacy, Kinesiology, Dentistry and in the Colleges of Engineering (Biomedical and Chemical) and Literature, Science and the Arts. Success in these graduate programs will prepare these trainees to make outstanding contributions as part of a diverse scientific workforce.
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