The University of Georgia (UGA) proposes a program in "Post-baccalaureate Training in Infectious Diseases Research" in response to the NIGMS call for Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP R25) proposals. UGA is strongly committed to enhancing diversity at all university levels, and has made major strides in recruiting and successfully graduating students belonging to historically underrepresented groups, including racial and ethnic minorities and students with disabilities. The UGA PREP will draw on UGA's remarkable strength in infectious diseases research, as well as strong graduate programs in several of its biology-related departments and mathematics, to provide intensive research experiences for eight underrepresented minority and disabled trainees each year. Thirty-three faculty drawn from the UGA Faculty of Infectious Diseases, who belong to the departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Cellular Biology, Ecology, Entomology, Genetics, Infectious Diseases, Mathematics, Microbiology, and Population Health, will incorporate UGA PREP trainees into their laboratories, providing a unique, structured and mentored one-year research experience. Coupled with a number of PREP-specific and integrative (with PhD student) group activities, the latter enriched by NIH T32 training programs in Genetics and Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases, as well as existing programs designed to enhance and support the success of graduate students belonging to underrepresented groups, these research experiences will provide trainees with the skills and attributes the UGA faculty feel are essential for successful entrance to and completion of bioscience PhD programs. Each trainee will be guided by a specifically designed, individualized development plan (IDP) to further enhance development of these skills and attributes, with guidance by a mentoring team and with the support of a personal mentor. The UGA PREP will recruit well-qualified candidates from UGA programs as well as via networks with undergraduate advisors and graduate coordinators established by UGA PREP faculty and the UGA Graduate School to ensure that the Program trains young scientists who are committed to a career in biomedical research and who need to gain additional research experience and academic credentials to achieve this goal.
There is a significant need for diversity in the field of biomedical research. Underrepresented minorities and persons with disabilities often face insurmountable challenges that preclude their entrance into scientific graduate training, leading to this lack of diversity. The University of Georgia's Post-baccalaureate Training in Infectious Diseases Research Program will provide intensive research training experiences to recent post-baccalaureate underrepresented minority and disabled students as an avenue for these students to gain the skills and attributes necessary for gaining admission to biomedical graduate programs.