California State University, Los Angeles proposes to continue its partnership with East Los Angeles College, Pasadena City College, and Los Angeles City College to further test that the growth into excellence as a PhD student can have its roots in the freshman and sophomore experience at community college; that the skills and habits of mind necessary for graduate school- and biomedical research career success begin in the lower-division undergraduate years, then nurtured and developed progressively at a four-year institution and into graduate school. We have reverse-engineered a freshman-sophomore training program for talented community college students from the characteristics of the most successful biomedical science PhD students at major research universities. Our proposed overall training is an integrated four-year program composed of the LA Biomed Bridges to the Future project for talented freshmen and sophomores at our partner community colleges that is deliberately coupled to the MARC U-STAR or RISE programs for the junior and senior years at Cal State LA or other four- year institutions. Growth through discovering one's interest in science and identity as a scientist requires time and effort on task. The combination of two years of experience as LA Biomed Bridges Scholars in community college, plus two more as MARC or RISE Scholars is a powerful combination to cement a commitment to a career in biomedical research and lay the intellectual and technical foundations for success in graduate school, a postdoc, and as an independent investigator. The LA Biomed Bridges to the Future Program is composed of eight components: 1) An early and substantive introduction to authentic mentored laboratory research; 2) a solid undergraduate curriculum enhanced by courses modified to include course-based undergraduate research experiences (CURE); 3) participation in workshops to enhance the curriculum; 4) an extensive program of improving the Scholar's scientific writing; 5) participation in an Annual Biomedical Research Retreat; 6) solid academic and career advisement; 7) participation in establishing support networks to enhance success; and 8) developmental participation in scientific seminars. We anticipate that students prepared through this integrated four-year training will be exceptionally prepared for the PhD and high-profile career success and leadership in biomedical research. The LA Biomed Bridges to the Future Program has made solid progress. In the past 15 years, 19 Bridges alumni have earned the PhD and are already contributing to the American research enterprise. During this past 5-year period, six alums from earlier periods completed the PhD. There are 14 LA Biomed Bridges to the Future alumni from the current and prior periods that are currently in top PhD programs and are making good progress. We expect to do even better in the renewal we now propose.
There is much talent in the large populations of underrepresented students at East Los Angeles College, Pasadena City College, and Los Angeles City College. In partnership with California State University, Los Angeles, these institutions continue to test the hypothesis that growth into excellence as a PhD student can have its roots in the freshman and sophomore experience at community college; that the skills and habits of mind necessary for graduate school- and biomedical research career success can be introduced in the lower- division undergraduate years, then nurtured and developed progressively at a four-year institution and into graduate school. These individuals will contribute the broad diversity of intellectual perspectives the nation needs to maintain leadership in biomedical research.
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