Health and professional disparities continue to negatively impact health and economic outcomes of underrepresented minorities. One mechanism for bridging this gap is to increase minority representation in respected professional positions. Biophysical and biomedical research is a field with significant employment opportunities as well as opportunities for broader impact owing to the lasting effects of scientifi discoveries. Increasing minority representation in biophysics would increase researchers with potential interest in underrepresented minority-specific health issues;increase the number of underrepresented minority mentors for future generations, and likely increase the financial prospects of underrepresented minorities that otherwise would not explore careers in research. The expected outcome of the proposed Biophysical Society (BPS) Short Course in Biophysics is to increase minority representation in biophysics and biomedical research. To achieve this goal, the following objectives will be met. 1] To expose a group of talented underrepresented and/or otherwise disadvantaged students to the rigors of the first semester of graduate school. 2] To introduce this group of students to basic concepts and methods in selected areas of biophysics. 3] To build professional confidence and competence in this group of students. 4] To expose these students to the excitement of biophysical research. 5] To illustrate through classes, research, and seminars how physics, chemistry, and other quantitative sciences are increasingly important in advancing medical science. 6] To establish and grow a network of under-represented biophysicists who will serve as "biophysics ambassadors" within minority and underrepresented universities and communities and serve as an alumni support system for each other. The Course will recruit twelve undergraduate students from disadvantaged backgrounds but with training in physics/mathematics/chemistry, and the course will run for 11 weeks during the summer between academic semesters. Key elements of the course include didactic lectures from experts, mentored research in faculty laboratories, and professional development through workshops. The Course, now four years old in its current state, has been remarkably successful and future funding is essential to build upon this success.
One of the main goals of the Department of Health and Human Services is to reduce disparities among underrepresented minorities. The proposed Course will address this significant health concern by increasing minority representation in biophysical and biomedical research. This will serve to increase the focus of research endeavors toward minority concerns, provide mentors of diverse backgrounds for future generations, and likely raise the economic status of participating students, which may ripple through their communities.