The MARC Program at the University of the Virgin Islands, which serves a unique minority population, proposes to contribute the health of the Nation by developing students as biomedical researchers. To accomplish this, UVI will build on its record of previous success. In the last funding cycle, 66% of UVI MARC graduates enrolled in doctoral programs. The overall goal of this proposal is that 75% will enroll in doctoral programs directly after graduation. UVI will achieve this improvement by a comprehensive approach involving MARC students, pre-MARC students, and all UVI undergraduates interested in biomedical research careers. The measurable objectives are that the program will: (1) provide a rigorous curriculum that develops both verbal and quantitative skills;(2) provide research training opportunities both through extramural summer research experiences and through academic year experiences designed to prepare students for these opportunities;(3) provide students with a clearly articulated career pathway to admission to highly selective research universities and a structure for success;(4) develop strong partnerships with research-intensive institutions, including T32 funded programs;(5) develop professional networks for UVI students and faculty;(6) increase the students'understanding of the biomedical research needs relevant to the U.S. Virgin Islands and minority communities nationally. These objectives will be accomplished by a multifaceted program including: (1) development of pedagogical skills of faculty and a new MARC curriculum designed to prepare students for research training experiences and increase competitiveness, (2) extramural research training, (2) presentations of results at conferences, (3) visits by scientists, providing students with biomedical research seminars, workshops, and opportunities to interact with role models and expand their professional networks, (4) special workshops designed to provide the steps in a clear career pathway, (5) a network of support by UVI faculty, peers, and summer research mentors. A new external evaluator will conduct rigorous formative and summative evaluation, including both traditional evaluation methods and social network analysis designed to compare students'development to a control group. In sum, UVI MARC has carefully developed a program to improve on its historically successful program, which produced 13 PhDs over the last 10 years from a pool of 2-3 MARC BS graduates a year.
This project is relevant to public health because it will produce a diverse group of rigorously trained, motivated students who will be competitive for highly selective doctoral programs and subsequent careers in biomedical research. These talented University of the Virgin Islands students will be the future leaders in addressing the health research needs of the Nation. They will contribute a unique perspective because of their cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds;this perspective will contribute to our understanding of minority health disparities and other key issues.
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