The Keck School of Medicine (KSOM) of USC recruits locally and nationally to achieve a diverse student body. In 2011, a summer research program known as Bridging the Gaps (BTG) was instituted to increase underrepresented minorities (URMs) matriculating at KSOM. The objectives were several-fold, 1) to increase awareness of the roles of physician scientists and biomedical scientists, thereby serving as a catalyst to ignite interest in choosing these particular career paths, 2) to evoke interest in those areas of research in which minorities are severely impacted, serving as a potential mechanism to reduce health disparities, 3) to enhance the potential for successful matriculation into a doctoral program, serving as a pipeline to attract talented URMs to KSOM. The current proposal, Summer Program in Diabetes and Obesity Research (SPIDOR), complements and expands the stated objectives of BTG. The novelty of SPIDOR is our interdisciplinary model that emphasizes diabetes-related research in basic science, clinical and engineering fields. The preceptors of this grant represent a balanced mix of full, associate, and assistant professors who are members of our USC Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute (DORI). These faculty members have proven records of student training and a history of collaborative research. We have carefully selected a group of faculty who not only have productive research programs, but have consistently demonstrated strong dedication to student mentoring and to increasing diversity at KSOM. We are excited to leverage experiences and established strong relationships with BTG toward the recruitment goals of this proposal. Through our undergraduate pipeline recruitment network, we have developed relationships with local Hispanic-serving institutions within the California State University and University of California systems. We have also fostered strong relationships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (e.g., Morehouse, Spelman, Howard and Xavier). SPIDOR will be a 10 week residential program in biomedical research and didactic instruction. Our primary objectives are to recruit and expose URM students to an integrated approach to diabetes and obesity research and increase their competitiveness for entry into a doctoral program. Towards these goals, we will provide an intense 2-week didactic for complete immersion into the various research settings. To facilitate entry into a doctoral program, we will offer; MCAT and GRE preparatory sessions, instruction on program admissions processes; application preparation; interviewing skills, including mock interviews and scholarship/financial aid opportunities. Topics covered in courses, workshops and seminars will be taught by our DORI faculty, an interdisciplinary team in diabetes, obesity and engineering. This interdisciplinary teaching model will serve to instill the importance of teamwork in delivering optimal outcomes.
The state of the nation?s health and healthcare disparities has reached a new level of crisis and is considered a national priority. Increasing diversity in the health care professions and biomedical research are key strategies in addressing this crisis. Herein, we plan to expand the pool of underrepresented minorities in medicine and science by introducing an integrated approach to conducting cutting-edge research in diabetes-related fields, complemented with an intense diabetes and obesity-focused curriculum.