This is an application from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), in conjunction with three neighboring institutions (the Burnham Institute, the Salk Institute, and the Scripps Research Institute), for a 5-year renewal of the Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) program, in response to the RFA-AG-10-007. The proposed program is designed to expand the pipeline of new physician investigators in the field of aging. It will provide support to 18 medical students per year from across the country selected for training experiences of 8 to 12 consecutive weeks full-time. We will make special efforts to recruit medical students from underrepresented racial or ethnic minority groups, trainees with disabilities, and trainees from disadvantaged backgrounds. All the trainees will spend the summer in San Diego working under the supervision of experienced scientists who have outstanding track records in research as well as in research training. A primary focus of our program will be on aging well in the context of age-associated disorders and disabilities. Strengths of our faculty range from basic and molecular biology to clinical, epidemiologic, and therapeutic research on aging and age-related disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, age-related macular degeneration, arthritis, and depression. The faculty has an excellent track record of NIA and other federal funding and of research training of medical students. The most important aspects of this program will be hands on-research experience and formation of a mentoring relationship. In addition, a combination of didactics and clinical exposure to geriatrics will reinforce the skills learned in the direct research experience. One area of interest will be the issues involved in research relevant to healthcare disparities. The trainees will have a draft of a poster by the end of their summer research, with the goal of presenting a formal poster at the annual meeting of the American Geriatrics Society and developing a publishable article within a year. An Executive Committee will oversee the recruitment and training of the students. There will be a rigorous and extensive evaluation of the program by trainees and participating faculty, including long-term follow-up. A password-protected website will be used to facilitate ongoing communication among the trainees and mentors. This program will offer a unique opportunity for medical students from across the country to work with some of the best molecular, translational, and clinical scientists working on aging-related research.
There is a dire need for physician scientists in geriatrics. This research training program is intended to increase the number and diversity of medical students who have interest and experience in research relevant to aging. The goal is to help develop the research workforce that is needed to meet the needs of our rapidly aging society.
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