A summer medical student research training program was established at the University of Cincinnati in the 1990's and subsequently has been funded by NIDDK for 10 years as a T35 Short Term Medical Student Training Grant. The program has supported training opportunities for 20 medical students each year in a variety of disciplines with the majority of students pursuing clinical or translational research in gastrointestinal, pancreatic, hepatobiliary, endocrine, renal, and hematologic diseases and nutritional health and disease. The students are selected from the University of Cincinnati and other regional medical schools. Students select from 56 mentors and develop research projects that are reviewed and selected on scientific merit, relevance to the diseases supported by NIDDK programs with consideration given to recruitment of students from underrepresented minority ethnic and racial groups and disadvantaged backgrounds. During the course of the 8-9 week training, students work in clinical or laboratory settings on their research project, present their research projects to peers and mentors;attend didactic sessions regarding human subject and animal subject protection, conflict of interest, publication of research results, ethical behaviors in research, and techniques to present abstracts and poster presentations;and participate in a new journal club designed to improve understanding of clinical and translational research. Students present their results at a fall poster session when a nationally recognized physician scientist with research interest in NIDDK- related research gives a keynote speech with the 2 winners from the poster competition attending the National Student Research Forum in Galveston the succeeding spring. Students also have the opportunity to continue their research in electives in research directed by the Program and Associate Program Directors. This proposal seeks to extend funding of the T35 for 5 years with support for 15 positions for summer students. During the next 5 years, added emphasis will be placed on recruiting students from minority ethnic or racial groups and disadvantaged backgrounds. To facilitate recruitment of minority students, we will partner with Meharry Medical College to recruit minority students since their university now requires all students to complete a research project for graduation. Additional novel techniques will be used to recruit minority students at the University of Cincinnati by tracking students participating in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship who matriculate into medical school. The outcomes of the trainees will be carefully followed from the beginning of the program 10 years ago to assess the impact of the program on students pursuing academic careers with specific emphasis on careers as physician-scientists.
Encouraging physicians to pursue careers as physician-scientists in clinical and translational research is essential to improved health of Americans in the future. The T35 Short Term Medical Student Program supported by NIDDK provides research exposure for medical students at an opportune time to influence career choices as physician scientists.
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