Increasing the diversity of cancer researchers and clinicians is a key strategy for finding innovative cancer control solutions and reducing cancer disparities. This Youth Enjoy Science Research Education (YES) Program will increase the diversity of University of California San Diego (UCSD) graduates who are pursuing graduate/professional training in the sciences. This YES Program is grounded on the Transformative Learning Theory and UCSD's 16 years of experience conducting UCSD's successful CURE Program. This YES Program will increase the number of women and underrepresented students from diverse scientific disciplines who are prepared for graduate school admission, with a focus on addressing cancer and cancer disparities. Specifically, YES students participate in classroom and laboratory learning activities that raise their understanding of cancer and the nation's and the world's cancer disparities. Thus, cancer disparities and how they are identified and resolved become the common theme that interconnects this YES Program's various learning activities. Students approach the issues related to cancer disparities, from the perspective of their individual laboratory training, classes and workshops, their own cultural backgrounds, community outreach events they deploy, and their chosen academic and professional pathways. San Diego's three NCI-designated cancer centers (UCSD, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute) invite the YES students to work and learn in the basic, behavioral, clinical and translational cancer research labs of their top cancer researchers. In their labs and classrooms, the YES students gain a solid understanding of cancer and the many bio-behavioral issues related to the development and exacerbation of cancer disparities and the possible resolutions. With this information and their literature review, students learn how to work on multidisciplinary teams as they develop programs to help reduce their community's cancer morbidity and mortality rates. Through these activities, students learn that, throughout their lives, they can play a role in reducing cancer disparities. To help YES students' reach their full academic, personal, and professional potential, they are also offered supplementary learning experiences, e.g., public speaking, goal setting and time management, writing, conducting literature search and synthesis skills, and experiences presenting and discussing their research work with professional and lay audiences. Students also prepare and submit abstracts to present their research findings at research symposia and national scientific meetings. Mentoring of the YES Program students, continues throughout their time at UCSD and on to graduate school. Thus, the premise of this YES program is that this learning opportunity will give the students hands-on research experiences and skills that will help them to secure admission to graduate level STEM programs and careers in cancer control research, always with a focus on reducing cancer disparities.

Public Health Relevance

San Diego?s three NCI-designated Cancer Centers are collaborating in this Youth Enjoy Science Research Education (YES) Program, an intensive, laboratory, classroom, and community-based learning opportunity to help UCSD students from underrepresented communities advance to the graduate levels of education needed to pursue cancer-related health and science careers. Student participants are matched with faculty research mentors who give the students hands-on experiences in cancer-related research and discuss how their lab?s research focus could help address cancer disparities. Students? classroom and workshops teach students about cancer disparities and give students hands-on experiences creating and delivering interventions to help reduce cancer disparities in their community.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Education Projects (R25)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZCA1)
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Lin, Alison J
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University of California, San Diego
Schools of Medicine
La Jolla
United States
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