Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland (CHRCO) and nearby University of California San Francisco (UCSF) seek to build the premier research training program for undergraduates from groups who are underrepresented in health research in the US. For 30 years, CHRCO has hosted the successful Summer Research Program, from which over 500 students have graduated. The 9-week curriculum provides participants intensive exposure to research concepts of relevance to the mission of NHLBI, as well as experiences designed to stimulate interest and encourage them to pursue careers in basic biomedical and clinical research. The long term goal of the program is to increase the diversity of health researchers. CHRCO and UCSF are seeking to build on CHRCO's experience and infrastructure to make a summer research program which is among the most respected in the country. CHRCO and its research arm, Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, is one of the ten leading recipients of NIH funding among pediatric institutions, and is an international leader in basic and clinical research in hematology. UCSF consistently ranks among the top 5 biomedical research institutions in the world, with cutting edge translational research on the heart and lung. UCSF does not currently have a hands-on undergraduate research training program CHRCO and UCSF are located in one of the most socially, economically, and ethnically diverse areas of the country and the Bay Area ranks 3rd in the country in terms of number of undergraduate students. The proposed Bay Area Summer Research Program seeks to utilize the R25 mechanism to enroll 20 undergraduate students each year for the next five years. In addition to the program's long-term collaboration with local universities and community colleges, the program seeks to significantly expand outreach to educational institutions with a large number of minorities in other parts of the country. We select students not based simply on their academic credentials, but on whom best represents the spirit of the NHLBI's R25 award. That is, we seek to identify students with very high potential but who have not necessarily received exposure or encouragement to pursue research. Participants will: (a) conduct their own research projects in a lab or clinical setting under the mentorship of an investigator; (b) attend regular structured seminars, presentations, and discussions intended to impart a strong foundation in biomedical research and provide practical advice on pursuing a research career, and; (c) present their research findings publically. We provide an intimate and welcoming environment for participating students. Based on careful review of the RFA, it is very clear that our program is the perfect match for NHLBI's R25 program, Short Term Research Education Program to Increase Diversity in Health Related Research. We have the infrastructure, track record to recruit the right students, and place them with the world's leading researchers working on heart, lung and blood disease. The grant funding will permit a greatly enhanced, long- term evaluation strategy to obtain empirical data that the program is meeting the goals of NHLBI.
There is an abundance of evidence that individuals from certain minority groups and those from lower-income backgrounds are grossly underrepresented in the health sciences and in biomedical research. The reasons for this phenomenon are complex, but the result is a relative lack of heterogeneity of perspectives and backgrounds among the professionals conducting the research, and a national research agenda that perhaps does not adequately consider all populations. The Summer Research program at CHORI will provide experience and encouragement for students from underrepresented populations to pursue careers in biomedical research.
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