The goal of establishing the Advancing Diversity in Aging Research (ADAR) program at Howard University (HUADAR) is to identify a group of bright minority students from MSTEM disciplines early during their undergraduate years and then through extensive mentoring and training prepare them to successfully compete for graduate studies and other professional careers. By making them familiar with aging research early in their career, this cadre of minority researchers could be made squarely interested about building a career on geriatrics and gerontology. The Rationales for developing an HUADAR program is quite justifiable, for more than a century Howard University is engaged in training underrepresented minority students. About 97% of Howard's mentees are African Americans and National Science Foundation's (NSF) recent ranking put Howard University as the top producer of bachelor's degree recipients who subsequently earned science and engineering doctoral degrees nationally from top-tier research universities. Moreover, with an aggressive recruitment effort, Howard University successfully recruited several faculty members in MSTEM areas who are maintaining an active research programs on various aspects of aging and age related disorders. Therefore, Howard University has the ideal environment to identify a cadre of talented minority scientists early during their undergraduate years and it has the required resources to provide them with a foundation of knowledge and research skills through mentoring so that these students will excel in the interdisciplinary field of gerontology. Trainee compositio for HUADAR program will include 100% underrepresented minorities. Approximately 7,000 undergraduate students enroll at Howard in 29 undergraduate departments and programs, approximately 97% of enrollees are African American and 67% are women. Furthermore, 20% (or 1,400) major in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Engineering and Allied Health with greater than 80% declaring medicine as their career goal. We plan to recruit five students from MSTEM disciplines each year by selecting them early at the end of their freshman year using a recruitment strategy which includes: a) identification of strong performing students in the introductory courses, b) students enrolled in the Honors Program, c) recommendations by faculty members, and d) students responding to advertisements, announcements, and oral presentations. Proposed training is a comprehensive research education plan designed for HUADAR trainees which consists of following components: (1) develop two new courses on aging, (2) exposure to aging research in various laboratories at Howard during sophomore and junior years, (3) attending research seminars by prominent gerontologists, (4) a summer research apprenticeship opportunity outside Howard University in leading research institutes on aging like NIA Baltimore, UT Health Sciences Center, Johns Hopkins, Georgetown University Medical Centers, University of Maryland and University of Washington, (5) writing a honors thesis/senior thesis during senior year, (6) provide one on one mentoring to build a successful career path. Thus, from their sophomore year up to the senior year we have a carefully laid out plans to educate the HUADAR trainees on different aspects of aging research including the social aspects of aging. All students and personnel will be required to participate in instruction on the Responsible Conduct of Research. Evaluation plan for HUADAR will consist of course evaluations, student performances, faculty efficacy surveys, summer research experience surveys, successful completion of an honors thesis/senior thesis. The long-term goal of HUADAR program is to prepare minority students as future researchers through scientific training and educational experiences and we will encourage them to seek aging research as a career goal. Thus we will embrace the goal of NIA ADAR initiative to fill a gap in the pipeline transitioning from undergraduate to graduate education in aging as it relates to medicine, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to fulfill the objectives of the NIA Health Disparities Strategic Plan.
By 2030 we will be living in an America with 1 in 5 American 65 years or older. The ethnic minority portion of our population is growing at an amazing pace from 4.3 million persons in 1990 to 22.5 million expected by the year 2050. This nation needs to be prepared to deal with ethnically diverse minority elderlies who will account for more than 15% of older persons by 2020 and more than 21% of older persons by 2050. Since health disparity among the ethnically diverse minority population is real and we have to deal with it immediately. Advancing Diversity in Aging Research (ADAR) is an attempt to identify a cadre of minority scientists early during their undergraduate years, provide them with a foundation of knowledge and research skills through mentoring so these students will excel in the interdisciplinary field o gerontology. With this conviction, this proposal lay out a detail research education plan to establish an ADAR program at Howard University called HUADAR. In the long term HUADAR trainees will create culturally sensitive health measures to assess the health status of minority elders with greater precision.
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