The applicants proposed to develop a training program for American Indian/Alaskan Native biomedical researchers. To accomplish this goal, they proposed plan to recruit American Indians and Alaskan Natives to the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) to obtain an M.S. degree and then to transfer these students to the University of Minnesota Twin Cities (UMTC) to obtain a Ph.D. A partnership between these two independent campuses will result in combined resources that produce a fertile environment for nurturing the academic development of these students. At UMD, the applicants expect to be able to provide these American Indian/Alaskan Native students with the necessary cultural environment in a more hospitable manner than a large research intensive university. Once the M.S. degree requirements have been met, these students will transfer to UMTC to prepare for future career opportunities. UMD is accredited to award the masters degree but not the doctoral degree; however, UMD has many support mechanisms for the American Indian/Alaskan Native students. UMTC has an outstanding graduate school with many research opportunities, but it is also a large institution that may be perceived as forbidding to the American Indian/Alaskan Native student. The proposed program would prepare these students by giving them the necessary academic and cultural tools to compete in the sciences without forfeiting their cultural identity. UMD has previously had undergraduate research training programs conducted by the Center of American Indian and Minority Health, exposing American Indian students to careers in biomedical sciences and health care. Most students, however, have chosen careers in Medicine and not followed a research career. This application directly addresses this deficiency by offering a new approach. The application incorporates culturally appropriate support mechanisms and systems to bring students stepwise from the baccalaureate, via the M.S., into a Ph.D. degree program. During the first year of the project period, primary emphasis will be placed on development of the program. Full implementation of the program will be accomplished in the second year. To project from our existing pool of potential students, we will be able to immediately fill at least four student positions in the proposed M.S. degree program, with expectations that this pool will increase by an additional four to eight students. Most procedures are currently in place to transfer students from an M.S. program in the Duluth campus to a Ph.D. program on the Minneapolis campus under the auspices of the University of Minnesota Graduate School. Particular emphasis will be focused during both project years on stabilizing this program through securing funds for its continuation, as well as by involving the American Indian/Alaskan Native community health organizations in the conduct and support of the proposed graduate program.
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