Meharry Medical College seeks funding to establish a Summer Undergraduate Research Experiences in Cancer Program that primarily trains undergraduate students from racial and ethnic groups that are traditionally underrepresented in health related sciences. Meharry Medical College is one of the largest historically black academic health science centers in the United States that is dedicated to educating physicians and biomedical researchers. It has a proven commitment to training underrepresented minorities, and is a leading producer of African Americans with PhDs in biomedical sciences. Meharry has received federal funding to support a U54 Cancer Partnership and other programs to support the research training and education of students traditionally underrepresented in biomedical research. The proposed 10-week summer program will provide an intensive, hands-on cancer focused research experience for undergraduate students and expose student participants to the area of cancer health disparities. Research training will be provided by a diverse faculty consisting of experienced cancer investigators from Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. A nationwide search will be conducted to identify and select 12-16 undergraduate students per year who are interested in pursuing careers in medicine and biomedical science. Student research projects will focus on cancers which disproportionately affect African-Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities. In addition, each year student research projects will include preclinical studies, clinical research, epidemiological and community based studies as well as translational cancer research. Additional program enrichment activities will include a cancer biology mini- course to teach students fundamental concepts common to all cancers. A weekly cancer biology/cancer health disparities research seminar will allow students to interact with oncologists and cancer researchers from groups traditionally underrepresented in biomedical science and to be exposed to career opportunities within the areas of cancer research, oncology and cancer health disparities. Sessions on the responsible conduct of research will be held on a biweekly basis. Students will also participate in career development workshops that will allow students to explore career options, create individual development plans, and obtain information needed to apply and successfully gain entrance into M.D. and Ph.D. training programs. At the end of the 10-week program, students will have an opportunity to create oral and poster presentations describing their research and present their research findings internally during the Meharry Summer Cancer Research Symposium and externally at one national conference. Program directors and staff will track participants through their undergraduate and post graduate training to evaluate the extent to which program goals were met, and identify areas for improvement. Evaluations from research mentors and undergraduate program directors/chairs will also be used to assess and improve the program.

Public Health Relevance

To enhance the diversity of the cancer workforce and fully address the problem of cancer health disparities, the number of underrepresented minority (URM) students who train in the areas of cancer biology and oncology must be increased. The proposed Meharry Medical College (MMC) Summer Undergraduate Research Experiences in Cancer Program is a 10-week intensive, cancer-focused research experience that will expose undergraduate students to the area of cancer health disparities. It will not only provide participants with a better understanding of how biomedical, behavioral and clinical research influences cancer outcomes but also inspire participants to pursue careers in cancer research.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Education Projects (R25)
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Subcommittee I - Transistion to Independence (NCI)
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Davani, Behrous
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Meharry Medical College
Schools of Medicine
United States
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