This proposal seeks to renew the ?Bridge to the Doctoral Degree: UPR to UMDNJ?, which has been assisting underrepresented minority (URM) graduate students in making the transition from the M.S. Program in Biology at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayag?ez Campus (UPR-M) into the Ph.D. Programs in the Molecular Biosciences at UMDNJ-Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS), Piscataway Campus, offered jointly with Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (RU). The M.S. in Biology Program at UPR-M has a student population that is predominantly Puerto Rican, but the Program does not offer a Ph.D. to prepare students for careers as senior investigators in the biomedical sciences. However, UPR-M has a long record of producing excellent candidates for the Ph.D. at other institutions, including at UMDNJ-GSBS, Piscataway, and RU. To facilitate the transition of M.S. candidates at UPR-M, this 3-year Program was established, consisting of one year of course work at UPR-M, followed by 2 years of course work and research at UMDNJ. Students completing this Bridge program receive the M.S. degree from UPR and are admitted with advanced standing into the Ph.D. programs at UMDNJ-GSBS, interfacing with the existing UMDNJ-Rutgers University Pipeline Program (IMSD Award), which supports URM candidates for the Ph.D. in their initial years of study. Now in the 9th year, we have enrolled 19 students in the program. Of these, 3 have completed the Ph.D., and 9 are progressing toward the M.S. or Ph.D. degrees. Among the 9 continuing students, 1 is at UPR-M and 8 are at UMDNJ, including 4 now at an advanced level of thesis research and 4 at the pre-qualifying exam phase. During the 8 years of the program, 7 students left the program during their first 3 years of study: 1 of these is in a Ph.D. program elsewhere, 2 entered medical school in PR, 1 is pursuing the M.S. at UPR-M, 2 are technical scientists and one is seeking scientific employment. None have left the biomedical sciences. We continue to modify the program to deal with issues of recruitment and selection of appropriate students, preparation at UPR-M, acclimatization during the transfer from UPR-M to UMDNJ, and program flexibility at UMDNJ. Based on the increased success rate of bridge students whose first research experience at UMDNJ preceded M.S. coursework at UPR-M, we propose to make an initial summer of research at UMDNJ as well as individual research at UPR-M integral parts of the program. This program continues to increase opportunities for talented Puerto Rican students at UPR-M, and to increase the number of URM students in the Ph.D. program of UMDNJ and Rutgers, thereby expanding the range of students entering biomedical research careers at the Ph.D. level, and creating a more nurturing environment for URM students at UMDNJ and RU. 7. Project Narrative There is a national shortage of underrepresented minority scientists in the biomedical sciences, which the Bridges to the Doctorate Program of the MORE Office of NIGMS was designed to address by enabling minority M.S. candidates from minority-serving schools to progress to Ph.D. candidacy at partner universities. This proposal enables M.S. candidates in Biology at University of Puerto Rico-Mayag?ez Campus to matriculate into the Ph.D. programs in the Molecular Biosciences at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey- Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Piscataway Campus. This and other such programs should increase the diversity of the biomedical science workforce in the United States. A more diverse group of Ph.D.-level scientists in the U.S. should provide role models for more diverse trainees in the future, and should promote research into health issues of particular concern to minority communities.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-IMM-A (50))
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Zlotnik, Hinda
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University of Medicine & Dentistry of NJ
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