The ongoing underrepresentation of minorities in the sciences limits the effectiveness of our nation's biomedical research enterprise and constrains innovation and productivity in the scientific workforce. To overcome these limitations, the overall goal of the Studetn Training Core is to transform the educational and research training environment at the primary institution, SF State, and its partnering institution, UCSF, by creating an intellectually safe environment in which minority students can thrive. Our approach is focused on reducing stereotype threat through educational interventions that are grounded in the psychosocial literature that address reasons why underrepresented students underperform in science courses and exit from science degree programs. This intervention will take place in all lower division science courses through the supplementary instruction (SI) program. In addition, SF BUILD scholars will engage in meaningful community-based research through a joint summer research training experience, as well as through academic-year long research activities that will strengthen their identity as scientists. We will provide training to help BUILD research mentors understand and reduce stereotype threat in their research laboratories. SF BUILD scholars will participate in intensive summer and academic-year workshops that will help them develop non-bench skills that are essential to success in science such as scientific writing, presentation skills for scientific conferences, and strategies for preparing successful applications to PhD programs. In the short-term, our goal is to substantially impact the retention of not only those enrolled in the BUILD program, but all URM students completing science degrees throughout the SF State campus. In the long-term, we anticipate a change in the institutional environments where URM students are recognized for the assets they bring to the research community and will feel a sense of belonging within this community. We anticipate that this will translate into a substantial increase in the number of URM graduates who go on to complete PhDs and embark on careers in biomedical research. Through BUILD funding, we will test, implement, and evaluate this approach, potentially developing a new model for future student-training programs across our nation.
The benefits of increasing the diversity of biomedical researchers include greater scientific innovation and a more skilled workforce focused on research questions of crucial significance for underserved communities. Ultimately, increasing the diversity of biomedical researchers through improved education, training, and mentoring practices will advance our national capacity to address and eliminate health disparities.