The long-term goal of our proposed ADAR Program is the increased diversity of MSTEM students that pursue post-baccalaureate degrees and research careers in aging-related areas. For this, we propose to develop a comprehensive three-year program that will have two major components. The first is a one-year program, the ADAR Program, that will support eight diverse (as defined by the PAR- 12-016 FOA) sophomore students selected from the freshmen participating in our pre-ADAR program [the Biology Undergraduate Scholars Program (BUSP)]. The sophomore year ADAR Program is designed to enhance retention, foster academic excellence, and kindle interest and engagement in aging research. It involves course work, advising, and research experience. Near the end of their sophomore year, each of the eight diverse students will be assessed for the possibility of moving onward to the second component [the ADAR Honors Program (ADAR-HR)]. Thus, by year 3, we will select four rising junior students from the eight who participated in the ADAR Program to participate in the ADAR-HR program. This honors program will provide a two year research-intensive experience, including one summer at another institution, plus a series of activities designed to achieve the following goals: (a) GPAs at graduation >3.25; (b) GRE scores in the top 50th percentile; (c) increased scientific research expertise via intensive research experiences, including summer research at another institution, facilitated journal clubs, and interaction with a variety of campus and visiting scientists; (d) enhanced oral & written presentation skills via specific assignments and peer as well as instructor feedback; (e) maintenance/enhanced commitment to aging-related research careers; (f) exposure to the broader scientific community via attendance at seminars and national meetings; (g) increased awareness of graduate school application requirements/processes & improved interviewing skills, the latter via practice and feedback from members of our Advisory Committee; and (h) entry into PhD, MD/PhD, or the research track of an MD program within 2 years of receiving their B.S. degree at a percentage of at least 50%.
The goal of our proposal is to increase the diversity of students pursuing a doctoral degree and ultimately a career involving aging-related research. To achieve this goal, we have developed a coordinated series of enrichment and advising activities as well as intensive aging-related research experiences and mentoring.