This proposal requests continuance of the University of Arizona's (UA) Postdoctoral Excellence in Research and Teaching program (PERT), as assessed on the basis of its progress and success in producing highly productive cohorts of trainees. The overarching goal of the program is to develop a diverse group of highly trained life scientists with the aim of increasing participation of underrepresented groups in the academic, health and biotechnology work force. PERT has enjoyed a vigorous 14-year partnership with Pima Community College (PCC), a minority-serving institution (MSI), in which PERT Scholars teach classes at PCC under the guidance of PCC faculty. In their undergraduate classes PERT Scholars expose PCC students (and faculty) to cutting edge research and topics in the life sciences that they would not otherwise encounter, as well as new and diverse teaching styles. In addition to the PERT Scholars' classroom contributions, PERT provides equipment and supplies for the PCC Biotechnology Laboratory. Since the beginning of the PERT/PCC partnership the PCC biotechnology certificate program has grown to serve over 200 students on the main PCC campus. To accommodate increased demand, this proposal requests funds to establish a new biotechnology laboratory on a second PCC campus. PCC students and faculty are also encouraged to collaborate with PERT Scholars on research projects in their UA home laboratories. The success of this partnership has led to increased numbers of PCC students transferring to the UA for training for careers in the biosciences. The 3-year training period of PERT Scholars relies on committed UA faculty who mentor scholars in integrating innovative independent research with classroom teaching, undergraduate mentorship, and the acquisition of organizational and administrative skills. Since the inception of the PERT Program over 80% of PERT Scholars has obtained tenure-track positions in academia or its equivalent. The PERT Program advances the careers of its Scholars, provides opportunities for MSI faculty to update and broaden their professional expertise, and positively impacts the broader UA research community and its faculty as well as advancing the discipline. PERT has achieved notable success in preparing postdoctoral Scholars for an independent career while fostering broad scientific collaboration between a research I institution and a minority-serving institution and fulfilling the educational and career needs of groups under-represented in the life sciences.

Public Health Relevance

of the PERT training program to Public Health is its dual focus on biomedical education of Hispanic and other Underrepresented Minority (URM) students at a Minority Serving Partner Institution (MSI) and the training of Postdoctoral Research Scholars in class teaching at the MSI. The aim is to preparing URM student transfer to University and Medical School, as well as their entry to related biomedical professions. The PERT Program trains its teaching-adept Research Scholars for positions in the biosciences in institutes of higher education.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Physician Scientist Award (Program) (PSA) (K12)
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NIGMS Initial Review Group (TWD)
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Sesma, Michael A
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University of Arizona
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United States
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