The primary objective of this program is to provide a short-term (10 weeks) training experience for sixteen talented students in the area of cardiovascular function and disease. This research education opportunity will be provided to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, racial and ethnic minorities, and others who are underrepresented in biomedical research. The long-range goal is to increase the number of such students in health professions in cardiovascular biology through interest generated by exposure to a broad spectrum of research activities in this area. The 36 Program Faculty participating in the program have been selected on the basis of their active research programs in the areas of cardiovascular disease, cardiovascular development, cardiac stem cells and regenerative medicine, cell signaling, and proteomics that are supported by more than $11.4 million of extramural funds from the NIH/NHLBI. Several of the faculty also conduct clinical and outcomes oriented research on diseases that disproportionately affect African Americans, notably hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. Students in the program are intimately involved in the ongoing projects in one of the participating laboratories, and are exposed to many aspects of conducting basic science and epidemiologic research. Students also participate in a lecture series that covers cutting edge topics in biological research, with a focus on topics related to cardiovascular function and disease and clinical/translational research. In addition, the lecture series covers laboratory safety and responsible conduct of research. In this application, we propose a new initiative that will give these students an opportunity to meet with visiting seminar speakers in informal settings to gain insights into careers in science. At the conclusion of the training period, the students prepare a brief written paper and give an oral presentation on their project. They are also encouraged to return in November to present their research at the university-wide annual research day. The program will be evaluated at the end of each year using a combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches including analysis of applicant pool data and recruitment methods, as well as exit interviews and surveys with the students, and feedback from the mentors. Additionally, students'career choices and progress will be tracked by yearly contact with each of the participants.
The goal of this program is to attract talented students from underrepresented groups or from disadvantaged backgrounds into careers in the biomedical sciences, particularly fields of relevance to the NHLBI. This is expected to increase the supply of qualified investigators who are studying cardiovascular, pulmonary, and hematologic diseases. Diversifying the work force in these fields will result in an improved capacity to address and eliminate health disparities and improve the quality of health care nationwide.
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