Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are unique institutions of higher learning that have played a significant role in educating African Americans in the U.S. Approximately 9% of African American college students attend HBCUs;however, graduates of these institutions represent 17%, 31%, and 31% of the bachelor degrees awarded to African Americans in the health professionals, biological sciences, and mathematics, respectively. Collectively, faculty at HBCUs have considerable potential to diversify the biomedical workforce as they are in a unique position to provide critical role models and educate, impact, and encourage more than 330,000 students to consider careers in the biomedical field. Despite an interest in expanding their research portfolios, resources needed for viable research infrastructures at HBCUs are threatened by numerous factors that significantly reduce the ability of HBCUs to support campus-based mentoring and training programs that encourage underrepresented minority faculty to develop and maintain active research programs. Building collaborations with research- intensive majority institutions is one approach that has been shown to be an effective model for engaging students in research training. However there are few training opportunities for faculty through these collaborations. In order to more fully realize and build upon the full potential that resides within HBCUs, additional models of research training and mentoring are critically needed. We propose to design, implement, and evaluate an evidence-based, culturally- and environmentally-relevant research training and mentoring program specifically designed for under-represented minority (URM) early career faculty employed in HBCUs (HBCU PRIDE). Our proposed program will provide skills training in community-based interventions to address obesity disparities, and is designed to achieve four specific aims. We will: Build on a successful pilot and recruit 24 research-oriented early career faculty and transitioning post- doctoral fellows at HBCUs to a comprehensive, full-scale research training and mentoring program;Introduce early career research-oriented URM faculty to cutting-edge research and current challenges through provision of a full-scale training and mentoring program in obesity research;Develop and implement the HBCU PRIDE Alumni Program to (a) provide a research support network,(b) provide a forum for the continued delivery of on-line research training sessions, and (c) monitor the career trajectories and progress of our graduates;and d) evaluate the effectiveness of the HBCU PRIDE Program in collaboration with the NHLBI's PRIDE Coordination Center.
The HBCU PRIDE Program is designed to train and mentor underrepresented minority early career faculty by enhancing their skills in research, grant writing, and scientific writing. It is expected that the work of HBCU PRIDE will result in an increased number of underrepresented minority faculty having independent research careers focused on obesity disparities and chronic diseases related to obesity.