Reports from the private and public sectors provide strong evidence that diversity remains an important challenge in biomedical and behavioral science research programs. To address these issues a Summer Institute Program to Increase Diversity (SIPID)-Functional Genomics of Blood Disorders was funded in 2006 by the National Heart Lung Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the University of Texas at Dallas. We recruited 25 junior faculty mentees who were assigned mentors from a pool of leading investigators in their area of research focus. We taught mentees diverse topics and hands-on bench research and grantsmanship skills. Program evaluations suggest the SIPID program will achieve its primary goal of aiding mentees in obtaining independent grant funding within two years of program completion. We propose to continue this mentored training program to improve the recruitment and retention of underrepresented and disabled faculty in health-related careers. We will establish a Program to Increase Diversity Among Individuals Engaged in Health-Related Research (PRIDE)-Functional and Applied Genomics of Blood Disorders to complete the following aims.
Aim 1 (PRIDE 1): In collaboration with the Coordination Core, Mentorship Committees will be established and long-term partnerships developed based on the research interests of mentees and expertise of mentors. A multidisciplinary didactic curriculum related to functional and applied genomics research, grant writing skills and hands-on-bench research techniques will be designed to increase the knowledge and skills of mentees.
Aim 2 (Mentoring and Networking Activity): The continued development of the mentor- mentee relationship will be fostered by regular contact with the Mentoring Committee throughout the year. A mid-year visit to the mentor's institution will be sponsored to refine the mentee's research project, grant writing skills, career planning, and additional bench training techniques.
Aim 3 (PRIDE 2): PRIDE mentees will continue to develop grantsmanship skills and refine their research projects in order to submit a grant application to acquire NHLBI-sponsored funding. The need for a diverse workforce permeates all aspects of the nation's public health-related research efforts. The PRIDE initiative will fund summer institutes to enable junior faculty to further develop their research skills and knowledge in order to increase the number of underrepresented and disabled scientists in biomedical research careers. Because underrepresented individuals suffer a disproportionate burden of morbidity and mortality associated with heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders, there is a critical need to increase the number of investigators conducting research on health disparities in this area.
Project Narrative: Currently there exists a growing disparity in the number of minority scientists engaged in biomedical research. Mentoring and training are essential to the retention and recruitment of underrepresented and disabled faculty. The PRIDE-Functional and Applied Genomics of Blood Disorders Summer Institute at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) will address these challenges by establishing mentor-mentee partnerships based on common research interests. In addition, the program will provide the mentees with research experiences in functional and applied genomics, develop grantsmanship skills, develop specific research projects, and improve their long-term fundability. The UTD-PRIDE program will strategically complement the efforts of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute to promote and diversify the country's biomedical workforce.
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