Xavier is ranked #1 in the nation as the primary undergraduate source of African American life sciences Ph.Ds and among the top 3 in MD/PhDs in spite of the fact that it is a relatively small school and the majority of Xavier student's families face severe economic challenges. Even so, there is room for improvement. When ranked by PhD yield per attending African American, Xavier is ranked 18th. The national literature identifies unique barriers faced by African Americans and other minorities entering into biomedical research careers, including the lack of: (1) early awareness and deepening exposure to the type of rewards associated with biomedical research careers, and the sense of accomplishment gained from success in early STEM educational experiences;(2) supportive relationships, particularly those related to faculty advising and mentoring;(3) suitable educational infrastructure, namely, (a) innovative STEM courses that engross students in activities that promote a STEM mind set and (b) the supplemental help needed when they face educational challenges;and (4) Active Engagement in meaningful life science research experiences and the presence offaculty and institutional resources needed to do this. Surveys of Xavier life science alums and the graduate faculty who teach them replicated many of these findings and pointed to areas in Xavier's curriculum and support services that need to be revised or supplemented. This NIH BULD project will implement strategies focused especially on the 78% of our pre-pharmacy/pre-medical students who change their majors before the junior year, at which time, pursuing a life science PhD becomes more difficult. This BUILD project will broaden the career interests of these and other students early on and engage them in activities attracting them to a life sciences Ph.D. Project strategies will involve a transformation of Xavier's academic and non-academic programs through the redesign, supplementation and integration of our career services, academic advising, tutoring, personal counseling and Centerfor Undergraduate Research units and the addition of departmental research training activities, faculty research mentoring, new STEM courses and the expansion of qualitatively improved undergraduate research activities.
Minorities currently represent an expanding portion ofthe U.S. population, and unless scientific education becomes more inclusive, our society will denied the talents of a large segment of our population. A diverse biomedical workforce provides benefits to society by tapping into unique perspectives and narrowing the health gap with a focus on health inequities and disparities, while promoting and ensuring fairness.
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