The overarching goal of our proposed Fisk University MARC U*STAR Program is to develop URM undergraduate students for successful application to and graduation from highly selective Ph.D. biomedical training programs, aligning fully with Fisk's mission is to produce "graduates from diverse backgrounds with the integrity and intellect required for substantive contributions to society". Fisk University requests support for three juniors and 3 seniors in its first year, and four juniors and seniors/year in subsequent years, ultimately growing to a steady state of 8 MARC Scholars/year. The Specific Goals of our MARC Program are to 1) Increase interest in biomedical research careers via multiple, complementary strategies, including a) development of a Fisk Community of Biomedical Scholars that hosts: i) monthly informational and skill-building sessions, ii) a Career Roundtable, and iii) the monthly university-wide COOL SCIENCE CAF?;and also b) engaging in a 6 wk. intensive summer 'Interdisciplinary Approaches to Biomedical Discovery'course after the Freshman year, with an Introduction to Responsible Conduct of Research. 2) Increase application, acceptance and completion of PhD- programs in the biomedical and behavioral sciences by MARC Scholars by engaging in a) summer biomedical research experiences at Research I institutions;b) MayMester I and II 3-week intensive courses preceding summer research experiences;c) the "Professional Skills for Graduate Studies Success" course with 1st year Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters-to-PhD students in our URM Bridge program;and d) Academic year research opportunities. 3) Enhance implementation of inquiry- and problem-based instruction in STEM courses and their associated laboratories via multiple faculty development strategies led by consultant P. Marstellar, PhD, Emory University. Measurable outcomes, tracked in collaboration with G Pion, PhD, Vanderbilt University, evaluator, include an increase in STEM retention from 72% to 85%, and an on-time graduation rate from 59% to 75%;with >75% of our MARC U*STAR Scholars entering and completing a biomedical sciences PhD program within 7 years of follow- up, yielding an overall 50 % increase in biomedical PhDs emerging from Fisk compared to our baseline. Together, our integrated and inter-dependent evidence-based strategies proposed, our ~1:14 faculty-to-student ratio permitting individualized advising and mentoring, and the prevailing faculty commitment to what is best for our students affirm that Fisk University can successfully implement and achieve the goals of this proposed MARC U*STAR program .
The overall goal of our MARC U*STAR program is to assure that future leaders in biomedical discovery reflect the diversity and talent of our overall population, thus designing health-transforming interventions that positively impact all of our society. Our program focuses on Fisk University undergraduate students, >90% under-represented minorities in biomedical research, uses evidence based educational and programmatic strategies to achieve its defined goal of increasing by 50% the number of our STEM graduates who enter a PhD-granting program in biomedical sciences, with an 80% completion rate and retention in STEM careers.