We propose here a new program at the UCSD School of Medicine (SOM) titled the Diversity in Research and Medicine (DIRM) Program. The goal of this short-term program is to introduce undergraduates who come from ethnic minorities, economically or socially disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as ones with physical disabilities to future training available in M.D./ Ph.D. programs, and attract them to a career as a physician-scientist. Individuals from all of these groups are underrepresented in medicine and biomedical sciences. Our overall goal is to provide a research-intensive but focused experience with exposure to critical components of the Physician-Scientist training program.
The Specific Aims of the training program are to: 1) Provide a short-term research-intensive laboratory experience in the summer that will enable future participation in academic research efforts, and promote the entrance of individuals from underrepresented racial/ethnic or disadvantaged backgrounds into M.D./Ph.D. programs. 2) Enhance the ability of the applicants to understand the clinical training and efforts of physician-scientists by participation in a clinical shadowing experience with faculty members. 3) Motivate and enable trainees to apply to and matriculate in health science programs by participation in university-wide events and didactic conferences with faculty and MSTP trainees, culminating in written and oral presentation of the summer trainees'scientific work at a campus-wide forum for undergraduate trainees. The UCSD SOM has a long track record in research and clinical excellence, as well as experience in programs geared to amplifying the diversity of the biomedical workforce. The proposed DIRM Program will be connected to but distinct from our NIH-supported MSTP, a graduate-level program that trains M.D./Ph.D. physician- scientists. To qualify for DIRM, applicants must be undergraduate students from ethnic minority groups;economically or socially disadvantaged backgrounds or have a physical disability. The DIRM program is unique and significant in that it provides a research-intensive and clinically-connected program for these undergraduate trainees. Importantly, this program will be one of the few in the U.S that promotes both biomedical research and health care delivery and that focuses on future entrance into a M.D./Ph.D. program of students from backgrounds underrepresented in these programs. It will foster their future training and careers in biomedical sciences and healthcare, in general. By introducing such opportunities to these trainees who are at a formative age, we believe it will attract them towards a career as a physician-scientist with specific interest in cardiovascular diseases. We realize, of course, that it is difficult to predict this ultimate goal for students who are at an erly stage of their training, but our initial, preliminary results support this belief.
This proposal will fund a short-term training program aimed at promoting diversity in the sciences and is targeted towards undergraduates interested in pursuing future training in a program offering both M.D. and Ph.D. degrees. For this purpose, our entry group will be students who come from ethnic backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical science, or who are disadvantaged or disabled in other ways. The trainees will take part in focused laboratory research, a weekly clinical shadowing opportunity and didactic conferences, to guide them towards their future career pathway in biomedical science and medicine.