Washington University is widely recognized for excellence in undergraduate and graduate education in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. As a consistent performer in diversity outcomes and one of the nation's leading research institutions, Washington University is particularly well suited to be part of the solution to under representation of minority students in these sciences. Our proposed MARC U-STAR program is a comprehensive, four-year program that capitalizes on the large number of our high-potential minority students and on our existing infrastructure that has been so successful at recruiting and retaining minority students in the biomedically-related sciences. Our recruitment and retention strategy builds upon existing infrastructure to attract underrepresented minorities to the sciences, build an early scholarly community for the students, empower them early in their choice to pursue science degrees, train them in biomedical research, and retain them in the biomedical and behavioral sciences pipeline to and through graduate school at Washington University or elsewhere. This program will be part of a critical component of a greater university-wide initiative to increase the percentage of Washington University graduates enrolling in and completing Ph.D. programs. Our rationale is that while we do not serve as many minority students as other universities with majority-minority populations, all of our minority students (830 students in 2006) have very high previous achievements and have high potential to complete Ph.D.'s in a biomedical or behavioral science. Further, around 60% of our minority students (130 per entering class) cite biomedically-related science as an academic and career interest upon entrance to the University, yet only a tiny fraction pursue biomedically-relevant Ph.D.'s. We propose to support 6 students per entering class in the training program;this is more than feasible, given our minority population, our high student interest in the biomedically-related sciences, and high student success rate in these fields. With even a modest, 75% success rate at MARC-scholar Ph.D. pursuits, we will realize an approximately four-fold increase in the number of Ph.D. pursuits of our minority students in the biomedically-relevant sciences.

Public Health Relevance

This program will have significant, demonstrable impact on the total number of minority students pursuing and completing Ph.D.'s in the biomedical-related sciences (an approximately four-fold increase at Washington University. The program will have a positive impact upon public health and will increase representation in biological and biomedical fields.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
MARC Undergraduate NRSA Institutional Grants (T34)
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Study Section
Minority Programs Review Committee (MPRC)
Program Officer
Hagan, Ann A
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Washington University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
Saint Louis
United States
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Wilding, Timothy J; Lopez, Melany N; Huettner, James E (2014) Radial symmetry in a chimeric glutamate receptor pore. Nat Commun 5:3349
Lopez, Melany N; Wilding, Timothy J; Huettner, James E (2013) Q/R site interactions with the M3 helix in GluK2 kainate receptor channels revealed by thermodynamic mutant cycles. J Gen Physiol 142:225-39