Hampton University (HU) is requesting funding for five years to implement a MARC-U-STAR Program. This project addresses the need to reduce the disparity in the number of individuals from underrepresented backgrounds in biomedical research careers. Minority investigators bring unique perspectives and experiences that enhance the potential for understanding factors that underlie racial/ethnic variation in health and health status as well as disease among the American populations. The long-term goals of this program are to prepare HU graduates to be leaders in biomedical research by improving their preparation for Ph.D. programs as well as future research careers.
Specific aims of the Program are to: (1) increase and enhance the pool of potential MARC trainees at HU interested in pursuing PhD or MD/PhD programs in biomedical sciences;and (2) develop the critical thinking, problem solving, quantitative reasoning and communication skills of MARC trainees. The research design involves recruiting HU freshman from the biology, chemistry, mathematics, and chemical engineering disciplines, who are interested in learning about PhD careers in research and who will become pre-MARC trainees. They will complete a set of courses and activities designed to increase their quantitative, critical thinking, and problem solving skills including tw mathematics courses;two biology courses;and two-semesters of general chemistry. To enhance their research skills, the laboratory components of BIO 105-Intro to Biology and BIO 412-Gene Expression will be redesigned into inquiry-based laboratories. Pre-MARC students also will increase their awareness of PhD careers and improve their study and time management skills through the "Pathway to PhD" workshop. They will attend a MARC journal club and other activities to enhance their interests in research. Five highly motivated and academically strong pre-MARC students (rising juniors) will be selected per year to become MARC trainees. They will complete an interdisciplinary curriculum that includes a differential equations course, with biomedical applications;a biostatistics course and an upper level cell/molecular biology course. MARC trainees will participate in research in funded intramural and extramural labs. This includes two summer research at T32 institutions mentored by renowned scientists. They will present their research results at the newly modified MARC research seminar course at HU and at least one national conference to increase their communication skills, allow them to network with established scientists and be exposed to the latest in biomedical research. MARC trainees will attend a verbal reasoning workshop to gain additional skills needed for reading comprehensively and writing scientifically and a Responsible Conduct of Research workshop. Together, these activities will better prepare the MARC trainees and increase the number of highly motivated HU students matriculating into and graduating from biomedical PhD or MD/PhD and eventually pursuing a research career.
We are here proposing the development of an interdisciplinary undergraduate curriculum that is research-intensive at Hampton University, a Historically Black Institute, as a MARC-U-STAR program. We anticipate that this program will increase the number of African American students in PhD or MD/PhD programs and eventually in research careers.