In order to increase the number of biomedical and behavioral researchers from underrepresented populations (UR), the number of undergraduate students from these communities interested in and prepared for graduate school in biomedical sciences must increase. Temple University (TU) provides access to a relatively large undergraduate population of UR students consistently ranking in the top programs in the nation in undergraduate diversity. In the College of Science and Technology (CST), black and Hispanic students comprise 24% of the total. Biology constitutes the largest major in CST and many biology majors are interested in and capable of preparing for competitive graduate work given undergraduate exposure to research experiences coupled with financial, academic and social support. Results from our first four years of MARC U*STAR show that Temple University has significantly impacted the number of UR graduates entering biomedical graduate programs from our institution. TU MARC U*STAR recruited its first cohort in the summer of 2009. Eight UR students were recruited each of the following years and 100% (24) graduated, including 8 males and 16 females. At present, 8 black graduates are enrolled in selective PhD programs and one in an MD/PhD program. Four Hispanic students and 2 first-generation or low income or mixed race students are enrolled in PhD programs. Several graduates are attending post-baccalaureate programs in preparation for PhD or MD/PhD entry. Our overall success rate of MARC graduates entering PhD or MD/PhD programs within 3 years of graduation is 83%. Many TU undergraduate students are first-generation college students and many UR students attended public schools in the Philadelphia area. These schools suffer a shortage of resources with all too familiar consequences and CST students enter college with low math preparation which impacts their time to graduation because chemistry and biology majors require completion of math to enroll in sophomore-level classes. Underprepared students have few college-level study skills, and often have part- or full-time jobs. TU has the potential to increas the pool of students who would not otherwise consider or be prepared for PhD programs. Our current application will maintain our efforts with the MARC students and expand efforts with pre-MARC students to reduce time to graduation and increase persistence for all UR students in the college. Strategies are designed to work at all levels of engagement.
Many of our national health challenges relate to the lifestyles of individuals. Lifestyles involve cultural factors such as diet and exercise, and lifestyles are influenced often by socio-economic factors. Hence, both the treatment of diseases affected by individuals'lifestyles, and the education and communication with individuals and communities to improve outcomes requires knowledge of the culture including language facility with the community. Equally important, research addressing our national health challenges will be most effective and impactful if cultural diversity is represented within the research community.
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