Funding is requested for five years to support 40 trainees per year in the MARC U*STAR Program at UMBC. The primary goal of this program is to provide experiences for underrepresented minority students to develop their interest in research careers in the biomedical and behavioral sciences, and mathematics. The program aims to provide a comprehensive system of financial, educational, and career development support to ensure trainees develop strong backgrounds in both didactic course work and research to enable a smooth and successful transition from UMBC to competitive graduate programs at highly ranked institutions. Students with majors in Biological Sciences, Bioinformatics, Mathematics &Statistics, Computer Science, Psychology, Biochemistry &Molecular Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, and Engineering will be recruited at the end of their second sophomore semester. The Program begins immediately with a summer research internship. Then, in the junior and senior academic years, students will take academically challenging courses, participate about 10 hours per week in research with a faculty mentor at UMBC or a nearby institution, and take required courses designed specifically for MARC trainees in scientific writing, and research ethics and policy. In the summer between the junior and senior year the students will do a second research internship. At least one of the summer research internships must be at an institution other than UMBC. Trainees will also meet with successful faculty from competitive institutions with top-level graduate programs, and be mentored in career choices, selection of graduate school and developing successful admission applications. MARC recruitment will target (i) academically-talented students at UMBC from underrepresented minority groups, and (ii) transfer students from community colleges in the area surrounding UMBC. Admission eligibility will require a 3.2 cumulative GPA, a minimum of 60 college credits, and commitment to a research career in biomedical, behavioral, or mathematics research. Trainees must maintain a 3.2 cumulative GPA in an approved major, and comply with program requirements. Program design, participant selection and quality evaluation will be guided by the MARC Steering Committee and administered by the MARC Program Director (who has trained >100 undergraduate students in his lab) with the assistance of the full-time MARC Program Coordinator. Additional resources are requested for program evaluation and assistance to trainees for their graduate school admissions process.
The proposed project is relevant to public health by contributing to the training of future researchers in biomedical and behavioral science and mathematics and statistics. This will contribute to discovery of disease mechanisms and development of new therapies.
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