Individuals from diverse backgrounds are under-represented in biomedical and behavioral sciences. While the underpinnings of this are complex, the problem has been perpetuated in no small part due to major limitations in the """"""""pipeline"""""""" of trainees from diverse backgrounds. As a reflection of our commitment to this issue, the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine has been running an NHLBI-funded T35 program for under-represented minority students for the past five years. We wish to build on this foundation, and sustain this initiative, through the current R25 mechanism. Our program was developed on the premise that the principal barrier to diversity in science is not a lack of talent, but rather a lack of opportunity. The program was built around an intensive research experience with an individual mentor, complemented by activities important to building communication and networking skills, such as making presentations in journal club or at a closing poster session, as well as seminars that describe issues relevant to career-building in biomedical sciences. To date we have trained 85 students in our program. Of the 63 students in our program eligible for medical or graduate school, 42 (67%) have been accepted. In addition, 2 students were accepted into post-baccalaureate programs and 5 are working full time in research labs. In pursuing funding through this R25 program, we have three principal goals. The first is to provide a high quality scientific experience to students of diverse backgrounds as a means of exposing them to, and persuading them of, the excitement of careers in biomedical sciences. The second goal is to provide students exposure to activities that will enhance their chances for success in biomedical careers, such as organizing material for presentations and seminars on the mentee-mentor relationship. Finally we hope to facilitate development of a network for contacts and information that will help these individuals surmount historical issues of access that have limited entry and success. Through our participation in the prior T25 program, we have demonstrated our commitment to enhancing diversity in the biomedical sciences. We look forward to extending this commitment through the current R25 mechanism.
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