Charged with the responsibility of educating future health professionals and scientists, the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) has enthusiastically embraced this mission, training the second highest percentage of Hispanic physicians in the country and providing a steady stream of scientists and health professionals to South Texas and the nation. Historically however, less than 15% of doctoral students in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) are from underrepresented minority (URM) groups. In a recent review of the Graduate School's achievements, the leadership recognized a disparity between the school's role in the institutional mission of educating a diverse student body and its measurable outcomes. It became evident that if the GSBS hoped to realize its vision of training the next generation of talented and diverse scientific innovators and accomplish its mission coincident with being a Hispanic serving institution, significant changes were warranted. To pursue this commitment, the GSBS conducted an extensive evaluation of its programs and then designed the series of programs and activities articulated in this proposal to proactively address the problems of recruiting and retaining URM students. Programmatic evaluations uncovered three glaring problems: 1.) the numbers of URM students entering the GSBS was inconsistent with UTHSCSA's institutional designation as a Hispanic serving Institution, 2.) 25% of URM students entering the program leave (dismissed or withdraw) within the first year, and 3.) for those that survive the first year, URM students graduate at a much slower rate than their non URM colleagues. The programmatic changes to be implemented include enrichment courses for first year URM students, individualized mentoring plans to keep students focused, and professional development workshops to prepare students for independent research. Through these initiatives, IMSD students will complete their degrees in a manner consistent within predominant institutional norms for non-URM students. IMSD students will graduate with outstanding publication and research records and as such will be highly recruited by prestigious institutions with T32 support. These initiates will serve the common goal of increasing the number of URM students who enter the professorate and begin to address the significant disparity of URM in the STEM.
This proposal seeks to enhance the training of underrepresented minority students pursuing their doctoral degrees in biomedical research. These students will potentially interact with the corresponding minority communities to address major issues related to health care. For example, we anticipate training Hispanic students who could address issues relating to diabetes, stroke and obesity, all which occur at high rates in the Hispanic community.
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