The Los Angeles basin is home to millions of African Americans, Latinos, American Indians and Pacific Islanders, but few are enrolled in graduate programs leading to the Ph.D. in the broad range of biomedical sciences. This under-participation in the nation's biomedical research enterprise represents the loss of a large talent pool that has not been applied towards the solution of the Nation's many biomedical problems. As a partial solution to this situation, four institutions in the Los Angeles basin propose to continue the collaborative Los Angeles Basin Bridges to the Ph.D. Program (LABB?PhD) to increase the number of talented minority students in Ph.D. programs in the biomedical sciences. This will be done by increasing the transfer of minority students in strong terminal master of science (M.S.) programs at a minority institution by vertical integration into Ph.D. programs at major research universities. These institutions are California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State LA), a minority institution, which awards the M.S. as its highest science degree, and three Ph.D.-granting major research institutions: the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), the University of California at Irvine, and the University of Southern California (USC). We propose to train each year a group of six minority students pursuing the M.S. degree at Cal State LA in a program designed to enhance their academic and research achievement; integrate them into the broader Southern California biomedical research community; expose them to a broad range of biomedical sciences and scientists; enhance their transfer rate to Ph.D. programs; and establish the foundation for their eventual successful research careers in the biomedical sciences. The LABB?PhD seeks to create an environment at Cal State LA that mimics a doctoral program in many important respects. We provide a strong, lab-based M.S. research environment where the research interests of the Fellows drive their placement in labs. We design an academic plan for the Fellows that overcomes deficiencies in their undergraduate records while increasing their GPAs and improving their GRE scores to competitive levels. We host three strong, weekly science seminar series throughout the academic year that provide opportunities for Fellows and faculty to interact with academic scientists from PhD-granting institutions. And we provide close mentoring to our Fellows to guide them through the academic process?mentoring provided by a faculty that is itself well-represented by minority group members. These best practices, initiated and institutionalized by the LABB?PhD Program, have made Cal State LA a well-respected magnet for minority science graduates in the Greater Los Angeles area to earn their MS degrees and proceed to the PhD degree. Due to these focused efforts, Cal State LA is ranked as the top institution of origin of Hispanic science and engineering PhD recipients among all predominantly undergraduate and masters colleges and universities in the continental US.
The Los Angeles Basin Bridges to the Ph.D. Program will increase the numbers of doctoral-level scientists engaged in biomedical research to enhance the health of the US public. The Program focuses on members of US population segments that have traditionally been under-represented in the sciences. These individuals will be more likely to spend their careers working on health disparities specific to minority populations.
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