Like much of the city it called home for nearly 140 years, the Dillard University (Dillard) campus was devastated in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina. The university has since rebounded strongly with more than $150 million spent in campus renovation and restoration, including a new $43 million, 160,000 sq. ft. professional science building. This is in strong reaffirmation of the university's commitment to the training of its mostly local studet population, which is 98% African American, with 99% receiving federal financial aid. Further evidence of the University's commitment to strengthen the training of its students in the sciences is demonstrated in the establishment of an NIH-funded collaboration with Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC), which has a strong focus on community education programs to promote underrepresented minority interest in joining clinical trials, along with an aggressive plan to enhance research collaborations with Dillard. We propose to leverage this Dillard / LSUHSC partnership to establish the Dillard MARC U*STAR Honors Program, which aims to increase Dillard's productivity in developing underrepresented minority biomedical and behavioral scientists. Through our partnership with LSUHSC New Orleans, students will have access to teaching, research, and health care functions state-wide. This program will maximize institutional impact through the expansion of our pool of highly qualified students in biology, chemistry and psychology with a strong interest in research-related careers, while providing specialized training for 40 students over the next five years, from a pool selected as MARC Scholars, who will benefit from an enhanced curriculum, professional development activities, and year-round mentored research experiences.
Specific aims are to Aim 1) develop and enhance a pool of highly qualified and engaged students with strong interest in pursuing biomedical or behavioral research related careers;
Aim 2) to provide MARC Scholars a special advanced curriculum, academic and professional development, as well as year-round research training under the supervision of research mentors from DU, LSUHSC, or other research-intensive institutions;
Aim 3) to strengthen institutional capacity for teaching and research training by providing focused professional development for potential Dillard MARC training faculty. Expected outcomes are to double the number of highly qualified and research interested students. At least 70% of MARC Scholars will matriculate into doctoral programs in the biomedical sciences within three years of baccalaureate degree attainment. The impact will be increased numbers of well-prepared underrepresented biomedical and behavioral science students and personnel in the nation and enhanced institutional capacity for sustained contributions in this area.
While minority participation in biomedical careers remains extremely under-represented and more opportunities for inclusion are needed, Dillard University has a rich history of educating African American students and preparing them for careers in science and medicine. Therefore, this program will contribute to the increase in numbers of under-represented biomedical students and personnel in the nation, by providing special advanced curriculum, academic professional development, as well as year round mentored research training.