The scientific workforce in biomedical research is chronically underrepresented in certain populations. While the reasons for this failure are many and complex, major research universities have also failed to recruit and retain enough underrepresented minority (URM) students, particularly at the doctoral level. This proposal aims to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups in biomedical graduate programs by introducing a one year program that will provide research experiences and mentorship to recent graduates with baccalaureate degrees in the sciences and from underrepresented populations The basic hypothesis underlying this proposal is that an intense experience in research is the best preparation for successful application to graduate school and then for a successful graduate career. Therefore, the foundation of this training plan is a group of highly accomplished and well-funded research laboratories at the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center;all participating scientists have shown past commitment to mentor underrepresented undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral students. Existing highly successful Ph.D. training programs in biomedical research, combined with several successful recent efforts aimed at recruiting underrepresented groups at the University of Washington, provide a strong foundation for this PREP program. The training will consist of one year in an academic research laboratory under the supervision of two mentors with related but not identical research interests. The trainees will pursue a hypothesis-driven research project through an interdisciplinary approach enabled by the dual mentorship. This core research experience will be supplemented with training to increase scientific skills in writing, oral presentations and in the interpretation of the scientific literature. Additionally, the trainees will receive supplemental didactic training to fill any outstanding gap in their scientific preparation. Self-confidence and scientific identity will be fostered through a variety of scientific and social forums within the group of trainees and with existing URM groups at the University of Washington. A set of rigorous evaluation instruments will be created to objectively measure their progress and to guide improvements in the program. The central goals of the program are to ensure that all of the trainees apply for graduate school admission, that at least 75% of them enter graduate school, and to ensure that they are optimally prepared for success in a Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D. program at a research-intensive institution.
The goal of the UW PREP is to annually recruit eight students from an underrepresented background to a post- baccalaureate program that will prepare them for success in graduate school in the biomedical sciences. The trainees will engage in a one-year intensive research project in a field of interest, under the supervision of two faculty mentors with complementary expertise. The students will also receive training in scientific writing and communication. We anticipate that all of the trainees will apply for admission into graduate school, during their tenure in the program and at least 75% of them will be accepted. A rigorous set of indicators will be employed to evaluate the long-term success of the program.
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