The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) proposes a Short Term Aging Research Training Program (START) that will provide a 2 or 3-month full-time summer research experience for 8 undergraduate medical students who have completed at least one year of medical school and are currently enrolled. The short term goal of the program is to provide medical students with a meaningful aging research experience early in their medical school career. In order to achieve that goal the aims of the program are: (1) To select 8 medical students per year who have an interest in a research career in gerontology or geriatrics and will dedicate 2-3 months during the summer to work on a research project in areas important to the NIA.;(2) To match the START Scholars to carefully selected, outstanding faculty mentors who will serve as role models and help nurture the interest of START students in research;(3) To provide START participants with required and optional didactics that will increase the likelihood of a research experience that will provide a bridge to a career as an academic physician in aging research;(4) To track the outcomes of START to determine the success of the program. The long-term goal of the UNC START Program will be to increase the number of physician-scientists engaged in biomedical, clinical, or health services research in those areas necessary to continue the mission of the NIA. The program takes advantage of unique and considerable institutional strengths in research, including diverse investigators from four different health affairs schools and Centers which are located in close proximity to each other. This arrangement creates the kind of multidisciplinary research environment that will hopefully provide the motivation for a lifelong research career. Providing a meaningful research experience in the early years of training may be our best hope. The proposed program is designed to answer this need.
There is a need for physician-scientists from a number of specialties who are interested in aging-related research. This program introduces rising second medical students with an opportunity to assimilate the excitement of basic, clinical, or health services research that will allow them to plan for further career development. Thus, this program can serve as a gateway to a lifelong career in aging-related research.
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