This proposal seeks to establish a summer research program, the San Antonio Program for Undergraduate Research in Renal Science (SPURRS) at the University of Texas Health San Antonio Long School of Medicine to attract promising undergraduate students and recent graduates from diverse backgrounds to pursue careers in kidney research. Kidney disease affects approximately 15-20% of the US population and accounts for ~16% of Medicare expenditures each year. New therapies to stem the suffering and expense associated with kidney disease have been slow to develop and will require a robust, diverse research workforce. At the same time, interest in nephrology careers has plummeted, with the number of applicants for nephrology training programs dropping substantially below the number of training positions available. Efforts are desperately needed to cultivate the next generation of kidney researchers and reverse this trend.
The Aim of the proposed Program is to address this need by providing outstanding and motivated undergraduate students with an immersive 10 week mentored summer research experience supplemented by a kidney research and career development curriculum. At the end of their research experience, students will present the results of their projects to their peers from the other R25 centers and NIDDK officials at the annual Summer Student Research Symposium. Together, these activities will expose students to the exciting world of kidney research and provide them with a knowledge base, critical thinking skills, personal development tools and an enthusiasm for discovery. These attributes are critical for their development into biomedical researchers and contributing to the future of nephrology, which is the long term goal of SPURRS.
The Aims of the proposal are to: 1. Recruit a cohort of highly qualified and enthusiastic students, 2. Provide a hands-on research experience through which students will learn how discovery, clinical and translational kidney research are conducted and the results are disseminated to others, and 3. Provide mentoring and career development activities to enhance entry and retention of the students into careers as kidney research scientists. We are uniquely positioned to achieve the goals of our Program. UT Health San Antonio has a robust portfolio of kidney research programs through which students will gain exposure to cutting edge research, a cadre of experienced mentors to guide and energize students about careers in biomedical investigation, a location in a large, growing city with a large population of URM students, and a PI with experience in leading a national R25 undergraduate research education program (NIDDK STEP-UP).
The SPURRS program will result in greater participation in kidney-related research by young scientists and physician-scientists. This participation will benefit society as a whole by enhancing the research workforce, including under-represented minorities, to solve pressing problems brought on by the increasing burden of acute and chronic kidney disease.