The Minority Science Programs (MSP) at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) are nationally recognized for developing innovative programs to improve the academic excellence and increase the number of underrepresented (UR) community college (CC) and UCI undergraduates being trained as the next generation of biomedical researchers. The objective of the Orange County Bridges to Baccalaureate is to jointly develop a research education program with Orange Coast College (OCC) that will increase the number and academic excellence of UR CC students that transfer to science majors at four-year universities, obtain baccalaureate degrees, and pursue Ph.D. degrees and biomedical research careers. We propose to increase participants? interest, motivation and academic preparedness by developing cohorts of UR students enrolled in the first biology transferable class offered at OCC to instill a sense of belonging to a collegial scientific community, receive extra tutoring and prepare participants for introductory biomedical research experiences at UCI. Participants begin research training as early as freshmen year, and they are expected to transfer and become competitive applicants for junior-level undergraduate training positions in the university laboratories. Main program components to mentor, motivate and prepare trainees are the integration of courses for skills development, research experiences and curriculum development. Skills development encompasses 1) training in critical reading, writing and reasoning, 2) a course on advanced laboratory methods, genomics and data analysis, 3) training in responsible conduct of research, 4) a research faculty seminar series to introduce participants to diverse areas of biomedical research, 5) a journal club to discuss primary literature, 6) progress report sessions to improve presentation skills, and 7) oral and poster presentations at local and national conferences. Over 40 UCI faculty with experience training underrepresented students serve as research mentors. Research experiences focus on preparing participants to become independent thinkers. Bridges participants experience the excitement of generating new knowledge in the course of conducting original research. Faculty focus groups serve to improve inter-institutional articulation in science courses and preparation of students by discussing curricular sequence, normalization of curricula between institutions, use of technology in the classroom, assessment and instructional strategies that inculcate an interest in the pursuit of advanced scientific studies.
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 academic excellence and increase the number of students from underrepresented groups being trained as the next generation of biomedical research scientists.
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