Ethnic minorities and underserved populations suffer a disproportionate burden of cancer related morbidity and mortality. Minority investigators may be an important resource to address this disparity, however, there are few highly trained minority cancer researchers equipped to focus on this concern. One strategy to correct this shortage is to mentor undergraduate minority medical students in order to encourage them to pursue careers as cancer researchers. While Meharry Medical College (MMC) is a minority-serving institution whose curriculum has been oriented to primary care, in the last decade it has also focused on training academic research oriented physician scientists. As a result, the NCI awarded a U-54 Partnership Grant to MMC and the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) which was successfully renewed in 2006. MMC also received a Minority Based Community Clinical Oncology Program (MCCOP) grant in 2004 which was renewed in 2006. Both of these grants are concentrated on cancer basic science, translational and clinical research and will be used to augment teaching and research opportunities provided by this application. This competing renewal proposal continues our goal of significantly increasing the number of minority medical students who develop and maintain an interest in pursuing a career in cancer research by providing a meaningful short-term cancer research experience in a research intensive environment.
The specific aims are to: 1. Identify and select first year medical students who have expressed a strong research interest in the biomedical, clinical, or epidemiologic aspects of cancer at a minority serving institution, and whose academic records are strong. 2. Match medical students with experienced cancer researchers in an area of shared interest of the students. 3. Facilitate and enhance this short-term research exposure of medical students and cancer researchers by 3.1 providing weekly interactions with Meharry Medical College faculty involved in cancer research to reinforce the concepts of hypothesis-testing, selecting the optimal experimental strategies, analyzing and interpreting data and integrating data across the spectrum of research strategies, and 3.2 providing a weekly luncheon where project summaries and data updates are provided in a nurturing environment. 4. Provide a venue for the dissemination of student research findings among student peers and cancer researchers at the conclusion of the summer and the following spring, in an institution-wide program. 5. Advise and mentor the selected students through the residency match selection process to encourage their identification of research-linked residencies. 6. Track the selected students through residency training and ultimate career choice.
Ethnic/racial minority populations suffer a disproportionate burden of cancer. Although underrepresented minority investigators would be an important resource to help eliminate this disparity, few are highly trained in this field. This proposal will address this need by providing short term cancer research programs for medical students enrolled at Meharry Medical College the majority of whom represent ethnic/racial minorities.
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