We propose a broad IMSD Program for Duke University to promote student development and diversity at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. At the undergraduate level, we will provide both academic support and cultural engagement components, including research experiences. Undergraduate IMSD Scholars will experience independent mentored research for at least four semesters and one 10-week summer program, and present their research at the national ABCRMS or SACNAS conference. They will also benefit from additional mentoring, a unique first-year seminar course, and group learning during gateway courses. Graduate IMSD Scholars will participate in Early Start, beginning graduate school a month ahead of time with career development activities, community engagement, and an early start to research rotations. Graduate IMSD Scholars will also benefit from unusually early travel to a scientific conference or workshop/minicourse (e.g. Woods Hole Course) and from additional mentoring from an IMSD-connected faculty member and continued career and community engagement activities (beyond the Early Start). Several program activities are also designed to integrate the Undergraduate and Graduate IMSD Scholars and Duke faculty members into a more cohesive community and to facilitate connections between faculty/students at Duke and those at North Carolina institutions, particularly feeder institutions with a significant underrepresented (UR) undergraduate population. The goals of the Duke IMSD Program are to increase retention of undergraduate UR students in the biomedical/behavior fields, to eliminate achievement gaps between UR and non-UR undergraduates in gateway courses, to double the percentage of UR students in our biomedical/behavioral PhD programs, to create a more robust sense of community for UR students in these programs, and to improve communication with neighboring institutions of higher education.
The Duke IMSD Program is designed to increase the numbers of UR individuals who pursue advanced doctoral training and careers in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. With the changing demographics of our nation, biomedical research will be severely limited unless it engages all segments of our population. Therefore, a longer range goal of the program is to expand the biomedical science workforce and thereby promote important advances relevant to public health over the coming decades.