The Brooklyn College MARC U*STAR program has served a large and diverse institution with a student body primarily composed of minorities and women. Our program goals are to substantially increase interest of nationally recognized under-represented groups of students and to successfully prepare them for entry into PhD programs in biomedical sciences. Accordingly, we have increased the efficacy of our academic support and training programs to the point that there are currently 13 BC MARC alumni in PhD programs, and our PhD entry rate has exceeded 50% in two of the last 5 years. Our evaluations identify 4 barriers to improvements in this record: Inadequate academic skills for mastering the "gate-keeper" science courses;lack of research experience and consistent research and career mentoring;lack of student familiarity with scientific research careers, leading to research motivation only to bolster a pre-med career path;and lack of awareness of what graduate school entails, how to apply, get support, and complete degrees. To meet these challenges, we propose two ambitious programs to improve and expand on our current successful MARC and RISE activities. The 2-year MARC Research Introduction Program will involve 100 or more incoming students with interest in science, and begin them on a carefully planned "research ladder." Participating students will have intensive Peer-Assisted Learning-based academic support for each of the gatekeeper courses. There will be also a series of seminar courses discussing contemporary biomedical research and research career options. Persisting students will move into journal-club-like seminars, training in our research techniques facility, and group research projects. Completion of the Introductory Program will qualify students to apply for acceptance in the MARC Advanced Research Program as Fellows or Associates. These advanced research students will have a 2-year intensive research experience in the lab of a biomedical researcher, academic support, summer research externships, and seminar courses in oral and written presentation of research and responsible conduct of research. These activities will increase the number of biomedical PhDs who have undergraduate research experience at Brooklyn College. Our objectives are to increase PhD entry rate of Brooklyn undergraduates from nationally recognized under-represented groups by at least 90% from its current level of 5-6 per year to 10 per year.
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