The goal of the UNC-IMSD program is to increase the number of underrepresented (UR) students that attain PhDs in biomedical disciplines and continue on to successful scientific careers. We see this support encompassing 4 key phases; 1) Transition Support, 2) Academic Excellence, 3) Research Excellence, and 4) Career and Professional Development. The 4 phases overlap in timing but follow an important progression as a student's graduate training advances. Achieving success in each of these phases depends on a common foundation - the recruitment of UR students who are passionate about science and committed to success. The 5 aims of the UNC-IMSD program are 1) Recruit outstanding underrepresented students into UNC's Biomedical and Biological Science umbrella PhD programs. 2) Provide outstanding academic, career and professional development support for students participating in IMSD such that greater than 90% graduate with their PhD and are prepared to be highly successful in the next step of their career. 3) Provide each student the individualized training, professional development, and mentorship they require to be self-confident, highly competitive scientists. Our UNC-IMSD training program will emphasize building scientific networks and collaborations, publishing, and submitting fellowship proposals. We will form an Individual Development Plan (IDP) team for each UNC-IMSD trainee that includes the PI, IMSD program leadership member, and other mentors as needed. 4) Aid senior IMSD trainees in writing their first manuscript by offering an intensive, peer- and faculty-involved, writing workshop during the summer of the trainee's 3rd or 4th year. And 5) Continue our efforts to improve the climate for UR students in individual labs and in the scientific community within the university by creating a mentoring workshop for IMSD faculty mentors that a) highlights the proven IMSD mentors and their mentoring styles, and b) introduces all mentors to emerging trends in student career mentoring, Individual Development Plans, and effective communication across cultural, social, and age spectrums. Since 2006 the IMSD program has supported 79 trainees of whom 12 have graduated with a PhD. Trainees have published 90 peer-reviewed publications and 19 trainees have received competitive individual pre- doctoral fellowships. Ultimate success of the program will be defined as UNC IMSD trainees complete PhD programs and enter high-quality postdoctoral positions, and later, faculty and leadership positions in academia, government, or industry.
Diversity in our nation is no longer a future consideration, it is the reality of our current societal landscape. Census projections say that by 2023 there will be no racial majority in our nation's youth. Therefore, it is critical that educational institutions aapt to provide opportunities and environments for all students to explore their interests, achieve their potential and become key players in our nation's workforce to solve the big problems that we face as a society. In stark contrast to our population's changing demographics is the relative homogeneity of leaders in the biomedical enterprises of academia, government and industry. For our next generation of researchers to mirror our changing demographics, it is imperative that we engage minorities to become a significant percentage of our future scientific leaders. The goal of this project is to recruit and train talented graduate students from under-represented groups as they earn PhDs in the life sciences and enter the workforce equipped to hold research and leadership roles in the scientific enterprise.
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