The objective of the MBRS-IMSD Program at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) is to increase the number and academic excellence of underrepresented (UR) undergraduate and graduate students that complete Ph.D. degrees in biomedical sciences and advance to competitive postdoctoral positions. During the past decade, the program increased by several fold the institutional rate at which UR undergraduates enter Ph.D. programs following graduation and the number of UR graduate students completing Ph.D. programs at UCI. Program elements are academic preparation, research training, intense mentoring and professional development. Independent paid research conducted under the direction of faculty mentors serves as a core element to prepare IMSD students for graduate school and research-focused careers. Research training begins in the freshmen year with the development of original projects that are developed by participants. Over 80 faculty with funded research programs serve as preceptors of IMSD trainees. The program offers a series of components to increase the interest, motivation and academic preparedness of undergraduates (freshmen to seniors) to enter Ph.D. programs in biomedical sciences, including a peer tutoring/mentoring program of science classes, a seminar series, journal club, progress report sessions, workshops on scientific communications, and application to graduate school. The graduate component is designed to provide a comprehensive training for UR Ph.D. students to excel in graduate school. The program provides summer research training for incoming UR Ph.D. students to prepare them for the graduate core classes, a workshop to prepare oral exams after the first year, a series of activities for second year students to prepare a dissertation research project and competitive proposals for extramural funding, presentation of papers at national conferences, professional development workshops on the academic postdoctoral positions search and counseling and orientation about graduate studies and career development in a non-departmental setting.
The inclusion of underrepresented groups in the biomedical scientific workforce is critical to address the need of improving the health of the people of the United States and eliminating health disparities in the nation. This project will improve the quality and number of undergraduate and graduate students from underrepresented groups being trained as the next generation of biomedical research scientists.
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