This proposal aims to enhance diversity within the biomedical workforce by supporting the development of six recent baccalaureate graduates from underrepresented backgrounds to be competitive for neuroscience PhD and/or MD/PhD programs in the best research-oriented universities in the country. The ?Northwestern University Interdepartmental Neuroscience Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (NU IN-PREP)? represents a cross-departmental initiative that will be administered by leading faculty within the Northwestern University Interdepartmental Neuroscience (NUIN) PhD Program. Because neuroscience is highly interdisciplinary and applicants are from varied academic backgrounds, IN-PREP will create individualized plans for skill building experiences tailored to each scholar's training objectives, thus providing the best preparation for success in graduate school. Experienced IN-PREP mentors, in collaboration with the IN-PREP Director, will work with trainees to customize a one year research program focused on developing critical thinking skills, research techniques, data analysis, and scientific communication. Preparation for graduate school admissions will include a GRE workshop, advice on writing personal statements and interviewing skills. Coursework will include one advanced undergraduate or graduate course to complement the trainee's previous coursework, mini-courses in cellular physiology and cell and molecular biology, and scientific communication workshops. Intensive advising using Individual Development Plans will be done to ensure that skill building, research training and graduate school applications are progressing. IN-PREP will take advantage of the centralized infrastructure of NUIN, which will work closely with IN-PREP to provide administrative support and a broad range of training opportunities, including: guidance for graduate school admissions, engagement with NUIN graduate students at seminars, the annual retreat, and training events in one of six institutional NIH- funded neuroscience training programs. IN-PREP scholars will integrate into the broader neuroscience community by attending the annual national and Chicago Chapter meetings of the Society for Neuroscience. Cohort building activities include participation in select events sponsored by the IMSD-funded Collaborative Learning and Integrated Mentoring in the Biosciences Program; two joint socials with University of Chicago PREP trainees; and a joint scientific conference with PREP trainees from the University of Chicago, Mayo Clinic and University of Michigan. IN-PREP will be administered by the Director, two co-Directors, a Program Assistant, and a Steering Committee. Program evaluation and fine tuning will be done annually and an External Advisory Committee will evaluate IN-PREP during the second and fourth year of the funding cycle. The milestones of NU IN-PREP are for at least 80% of trainees to be admitted to a top ranked neuroscience graduate program and for at least 80% of trainees to attain their PhD degrees within 6 years of graduate school matriculation. The one year NU IN-PREP program has been designed to achieve these milestones.
The advancement of biomedical research critically relies on training the next generation of scientists. The goal of the Northwestern University Interdepartmental Neuroscience Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program is to recruit trainees from diverse, underrepresented groups and prepare them for a successful transition into graduate school and to help guarantee their success in obtaining the PhD degree. The program features core research, communication skills, and coursework components, but also provides access to a broad range of opportunities within the neuroscience PhD and affiliated institutional training (T32) programs, allowing for individualized experiences that will foster scientific and professional growth.