As the population of older adults increases dramatically, age-related illnesses such as Alzheimer?s disease (AD) and other degenerative disorders present a great public health burden, currently affecting an estimated to 5.4 million Americans. It is well documented that older adults from ethnic minority and lower socioeconomic backgrounds are at increased risk for AD and other disorders of aging. There is thus an urgent need to increase the number of scientists from diverse backgrounds who are committed to the study of aging and age- related health disparities. The proposed Summer of Translational Aging Research for Undergraduates (STAR U) program is guided by three axioms related to biomedical research on aging: 1. The diversity of the older adult population is increasing and there are systematic racial/ethnic disparities related to disorders of aging that are poorly understood; 2. Scientific advancement relies upon diversity of background, experience, ideas, and perspectives; increasing the diversity of scientists involved with biomedical research of aging is necessary to provide the cultural sensitivity and knowledge to understand sources of disparities in aging; and 3. Despite increases in the number of underrepresented minorities receiving higher education, a large percentage do not pursue careers in science. STAR U seeks to overcome historic barriers that have prevented such students from pursuing careers in scientific and aging research. Through a structured summer research program, STAR U will provide 10-12 students per year with: 1) individual, tailored research mentorships in the neuroscience of aging; 2) a range of translational learning opportunities; and 3) professional networking and social experiences. Research opportunities will span areas such as patient-oriented clinical research, cognitive neuroscience, basic science, and the epidemiological study of cognitive aging and its disorders. STAR U students will gather formally once per week for a two-hour seminar session that will include one hour devoted to a scientific topic, and one hour devoted to professional/academic development. Scientific training will focus on major themes in aging research, research methodologies, and general content areas relevant to developing scientific careers. Personal and professional development will be fostered through social gatherings as well as seminars on career development, learning how to find and work effectively with mentors, balance personal and professional demands, choosing the type of graduate training that is most appropriate for them, communicating effectively in science, and applying to graduate/medical school effectively. The long-term goal of the Summer of Translational Aging Research for Undergraduates is to enhance the field of aging and age-related disparities research by infusing it with diverse, well-trained scientists.!
There is an urgent need to increase the number of scientists from diverse backgrounds who are committed to the study of aging and age-related health disparities. The Summer of Translational Aging Research for Undergraduates (STAR U) program seeks to overcome historic barriers that have prevented undergraduate students, from underrepresented minority backgrounds, from pursuing careers in scientific and aging research. Through a structured summer research program, STAR U will provide: 1) individual, tailored research mentorships; 2) a range of translational learning opportunities; and 3) cultural and social experiences in the neuroscience of aging and aging disparities research. The ultimate goal of STAR U is to foster the development of a cadre of diverse young scientists who will infuse the field of aging research with unique experiences and perspectives. !