The University of New Mexico is requesting $2,277,413 million to renew our MARC U*STAR training program for five years. Our program recruits, trains and prepares 25 minority honors students for graduate school in biomedical research. We expect that most will pursue research careers in the biomedical sciences and that because of their backgrounds this research will help reduce health disparities such as cancer, obesity, infant mortality, HIV/AIDS, and alcoholism that afflict minorities and those in poverty. To date 100% of our students have obtained a baccalaureate degree and in the last MARC graduates have entered graduate school at a significantly greater rate than a control group. In addition our program contributes to the success of large numbers of undergraduate students through improvements in advising, curriculum, and dissemination of information about opportunities for undergraduate research. The goals of this program include both continuations of those we have used successfully and modifications that reflect changes in the institution. The MARC program will cultivate a large cohort of underrepresented students who are on track academically and aware of the possibility for undergraduate research, recruit 5 students each year from ethnic groups underrepresented in the sciences into the UNM MARC U*STAR program, provide these MARC scholars with academic advising and research experiences, and prepare the MARC scholars for application and admission to graduate school in the biomedical sciences. Specifically, the UNM MARC U*STAR goals are to: 1) Increase the number of Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry majors, especially URM's, applying to and involved in research programs as undergraduates. We will increase advising capacity and institute more and broader recruitment programs. 2) Increase the number of URM's in Biology, Chemistry, and Biochemistry that are academically prepared to participate in research projects. We will increase advising track and strengthen the Biology Department's core curriculum. 3) Recruit 5 underrepresented students per year as MARC U*STAR scholars, and prepare them for 2 years for post-baccalaureate study and research careers. Training will include a well-mentored research project, presentations at local and national meetings, training in research ethics and training in scientific communication. 4) Increase the number of underrepresented students as MARC scholars who are entering biomedical research careers. 5) Identify effective strategies that can be implemented at UNM to encourage underrepresented students to enter graduate research degree programs. Evaluation of the MARC students and a control group will be continued to determine the success of each program element, to identify areas for improvement, and to provide information about successes and challenges for the program.
The UNM MARC U*STAR program, over the next five-years, plans to advise hundreds of minority students about the possibilities for research as undergraduates, to enhance the curriculum for all biology students, and to prepare at least 25 underrepresented minority students for graduate school degree programs in the biomedical sciences. Since our MARC U*STAR Scholars come from populations associated with significant health disparities (diabetes, cancer, infant mortality, HIV/AIDS, and alcoholism) that afflict minorities and those in poverty, we will be training individuals who are highly motivated and skilled to carry out future research aimed at alleviating and curing these health disparities.
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