The UW PREP will increase the number of students from groups chronically underrepresented in biomedical graduate programs by (i) recruiting promising recently graduated URM students to the discipline and (ii) providing them with the research experience, professional development and mentorship to succeed. The hypothesis underlying the program plan is that an intense experience patterned after graduate school which imparts a realistic view of graduate education is the best preparation for successful application to and graduation from high-caliber programs. Thus, the foundation of this program is the large number of highly accomplished and well-funded research laboratories at the University of Washington (UW) and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC), from which emerges the core group of faculty mentors. This is a group of accomplished scientists closely associated with UW PREP who have already demonstrated a commitment to mentoring undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral URM fellows as well as PREP fellows. In addition, UW PREP perfectly dovetails with existing Ph.D.-granting departments and training programs in biomedical research and with other UW programs, such as the Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity (IMSD), which aim to prepare URM undergraduate students at the UW for biomedical research careers. The objectives of the program are to ensure that: (i) all fellows will apply for admission into biomedical graduate programs; (ii) at least 75% of them will successfully enter graduate school; (iii) all fellows will be adequately prepared for success in high-caliber Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D. programs and beyond. UW PREP will match each fellow with a research laboratory to conduct a year long, hypothesis-driven project under the guidance of a funded investigator and the 'day-to-day' supervision of a post-doctoral fellow or graduate student. A member of the PREP Executive Committee will act as secondary mentor to ensure weekly supervision of the fellows' training progress, including intense discussions about graduate school application and choice. The research experience will be supplemented with an intense set of professional development activities based on individual development programs (IDPs) which will increase: scientific skills in writing, critical thinking and presentation; the interpretation of the scientiic literature; awareness of bioethical issues and the responsible conduct of research; and provide supplemental didactic training to fill gaps in academic preparation. Self-confidence and scientific identity will be fostered through a variety of scientific and social forums within the group of fellows and with other existing URM groups and graduate programs at the UW. A set of rigorous evaluation instruments will measure the fellow's preparation upon entry and progress while in the program and once they leave, and allow for anonymous suggestions and criticisms by the fellows and mentors to direct improvements in the program. An Institutional Advisory Committee composed of training grant directors and former PREP fellows will supervise the program and exercise oversight.
The UW PREP will annually recruit eight fellows from a pool of recent graduates belonging to groups underrepresented in the biomedical sciences and will prepare them for successful application, matriculation, and graduation from biomedical graduate programs. The fellows will engage in a one-year intensive research project under the supervision of two faculty mentors and receive professional training in scientific writing, communication skills and bioethics. All fellows will apply for admission into multiple PhD or MD/PhD programs during their tenure in the program, with the goal that at least 75% of them will be accepted. A rigorous set of evaluation tools administered by an independent evaluator will examine the program's impact on the participants and the diversification of the biomedical scientific workforce.
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