This proposal is a competitive renewal of the Penn State STEP-UP program initially funded in 2007 and renewed in 2011. The program is designed to provide short-term experience and training in biomedical research for undergraduate students from racial/ethnic-underrepresented groups, and for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. For the renewal, Penn State is joining with the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) to enhance recruitment of URM students and increase the scope of student research experiences. W. Brian Reeves, M.D., Chair of Medicine at UTHSCSA and previously the PI of Penn State STEP-UP will serve as the contact PI. Dr. Gail Matters, who has served as the Program Coordinator since 2007 will serve as the Penn State PI. Progress under the current award period has been excellent. 227 students have matriculated through the Penn State STEP-UP program in its first ten years. Penn State has made targeted recruitment efforts through several minority student organizations which have resulted in a large increase in the number of applications received. Applications now exceed available positions by a 5:1 ratio. Since its inception over 64% of Penn State STEP-UP alumni are either enrolled in or have completed post-graduate education in the biomedical sciences and an additional 18% are employed in biomedical fields. The current proposal builds on the successes of the current STEP-UP program and significantly expands the mentoring activities to provide more sustained support to the students. The plan provides background and hands-on experience in research related to the mission of NIDDK. The plan also provides for technical advising and mentoring of students during their hands-on research experience, at a summer-end research symposium and during the subsequent academic year.
The aims of the proposal are: 1. Provide a hands-on research experience through which students will learn how discovery, clinical and translational research are conducted and the results are disseminated to others. 2. Provide mentoring and career development activities to enhance entry and retention of students in biomedical research. The curriculum will also include discussions on normative standards of conduct, privacy and confidentiality issues, laboratory safety, research integrity, record keeping, data management, and communication skills. Although the primary goal of this proposal is to increase the number and competence of members of underrepresented groups in biomedical research, an important secondary benefit is to expand the proportion of underrepresented population who understand that life-style decisions have great consequences for their personal health and that of their family, friends and community.

Public Health Relevance

The STEP-UP program will result in greater participation by under-represented minorities in biomedical research. This participation will benefit society as a whole by bringing unique perspectives to the study of human disease, which often disproportionately affects minorities.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Education Projects (R25)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZDK1)
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Rivers, Robert C
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University of Texas Health Science Center
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
San Antonio
United States
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