The primary, long-term objective of UNC PREP in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences is to increase the number of highly trained, under-represented (UR) biomedical scientists in leadership positions who can significantly impact the health-related research needs of the nation. The immediate goals of UNC PREP in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences are to equip, encourage, and empower talented UR post-baccalaureates to enter and excel in top biological and biomedical graduate programs. Our program will address each scholar's unique needs and support his or her transition into highly competitive PhD or MD/PhD programs and research careers. This will be accomplished through extensive high-quality research experiences, relevant professional development training, supportive program staff, and the development of a community of like-minded scholars with similar goals. In addition to becoming competitive PhD or MD/PhD candidates, our program will lay the foundation of each trainee's network of mentors who can provide guidance and support success throughout their career.
The specific aims for UNC PREP are 1) to provide a unique training experience for each scholar based on his or her specific needs through the use of Individual Development Plans (IDPs). This will form the foundation of each scholar's training and will allow him or her to develop a foundation in all skills critical to success in graduate school and research careers;2) to have UNC PREP scholars engage in mentored lab research (75% time) as well as professional development activities and graduate level coursework (25% time) so they develop not only critical thinking skills but also critical time management skills needed t balance graduate school expectations;3) to have 80% of UNC PREP scholars transition into top-tiered, competitive graduate programs with the intent of pursuing a biomedically relevant research career;and 4) to thoroughly integrate early and continuous evaluation into all aspects of UNC PREP. Quantitative and qualitative measures of scholar progress, scholar outcomes, and all program components designed to address these aims will be consistently and thoroughly evaluated and will drive evolution of program components to maximize development of students and positive outcomes in the above aims. In its first three years, 87.5% of PREP scholars have been accepted into top biomedical PhD programs with 100% retention in these programs. Ultimate success of the program will be defined as UNC PREP scholars completing PhD programs and entering high-quality postdoctoral positions, and later, faculty and leadership positions in academia, government, or industry.
Diversity in our nation is no longer a future consideration;it is the reality of our current societal landscape. Census projections say that by 2023 there will be no racial majority in our nation's youth. Therefore, it is critical that educational institutions aapt to provide opportunities and environments for all students to explore their interests, achieve their potential and become key players in our nation's workforce to solve the big problems that we face as a society. In stark contrast to our population's changing demographics, is the relative homogeneity of leaders in the biomedical enterprises of academia, government and industry. For our next generation of researchers to mirror our changing demographics, it is imperative that we engage minorities to become a significant percentage of our future scientific leaders. The goal of this project is to encourage and equip talented undergraduates from under-represented groups to pursue and succeed in top biomedical graduate programs and careers.
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