This proposal requests ongoing funding to continue the Summer Program in Obesity, Diabetes and Nutrition Research Training (SPORT) and aims to inspire passion toward research in diabetes, obesity and nutrition by providing a mentored summer research experience for 12 first year medical students per year, as well as ongoing career, academic, research and clinical mentoring throughout medical school, with the ultimate goal of preparing participants for placement in competitive residency training programs leading to careers as independent physician scientists.
The aims are to: 1) match first year medical students with outstanding faculty mentors who will maintain the mentor relationship and provide career guidance throughout students' medical school career; 2) provide structured training and experience in the conduct of independent, hypothesis driven research; 3) improve diversity among the scientific community by recruiting students from backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical research. With respect to the latter, overall, 8- 33% of the SPORT training cohorts have been students from underrepresented backgrounds. The training experience is founded on the principle that we learn by doing. In addition to completing the mentored research project, students participate in core seminars, a research retreat and forum to gain additional research exposure and develop a mentoring network. The University of Maryland School of Medicine is a rich academic environment, and a leading institution in diabetes, obesity and nutrition focused research and clinical care. We have assembled 50 mentors, many of whom are members of the NIDDK funded Nutrition Obesity Research Center, who are experienced, well-funded investigators with excellent track records of mentoring whose research covers diverse topics including epidemiology, genetics/genomics, molecular, cellular, and pathophysiological mechanisms of disease, technology, translational research, and patient- oriented clinical research. The program, trainees and mentors are evaluated through mid and end of program evaluations as well as a process involving a Steering Committee which meets twice annually to review program content, evaluations, student progress, and advise future direction. Students are offered opportunities for ongoing research and mentoring through 4th year research electives. Program participants have contributed to peer reviewed publications and participated in presentations at national meetings. SPORT provides a pipeline to attracting highly qualified physicians into biomedical research by providing medical students an early medical school opportunity for mentored research training, intellectual development and to gain technical experience in biomedical research focused on obesity, nutrition, diabetes and related research.
Through this summer program in obesity, diabetes and nutrition related research training, we aim to inspire passion toward and maintain career interests of highly talented medical students who will ultimately develop the solutions to the public health concerns of obesity and related conditions. We have assembled a deep well of outstanding mentors who are committed to training the next generation of physician scientists, and have strong institutional support for the program.
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