African Americans carry the highest cancer burden of any racial or ethnic group in the United States. A variety of factors (social, economic, genetic, nutritional and behavioral) contribute to the high rate of incidence and mortality among African Americans, and sorting out the contributions of each will require substantial and sustained research effort. Participation by members of the African American community in all aspects of cancer research is crucial to the success of this endeavor. The partnership between North Carolina Central University (NCCU) and the UNC-Chapel Hill Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center (UNCCH/LCCC), previously funded through a U56 award, has laid the groundwork for an inter-institutional training program for undergraduate students who are motivated to pursue careers in basic cancer research and in public health. This proposal requests support for the establishment of a unique 2 year program, called "Partners", designed to meet our goal of increasing the number of undergraduate students from both NCCU and UNC-Chapel Hill who successfully pursue careers devoted to finding causes, cures, and prevention strategies for cancers that disproportionately affect minorities, particularly African Americans.
The Specific Aims of the Partners Program are as follows: (1) Provide NCCU undergraduate students with an intensive introduction to either basic cancer laboratory research or to the field of public health through a summer educational experience. (2) Assist students in developing the professional skills necessary to gain admission to competitive graduate and professional schools in the biomedical sciences or in public health and to successfully complete those programs. (3) During the academic year following the summer research experience, provide students both discipline-specific training to further develop research skills in their field and interdisciplinary cross-training to build a basic foundation for interdisciplinary research in public health and social, behavioral and biomedical sciences. (4) Facilitate cancer research experiences for UNC-CH students in laboratories and research centers, and in public health-related departments at NCCU.
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