Increasing the diversity of the biomedical workforce, particularly at the Ph.D. level, is expected to have important and positive effects on the national research agenda. One approach is to increase the number of students from groups underrepresented in the biomedical sciences who transition from the M.S. to the Ph.D., who then complete the Ph.D. and enter research careers. This application will contribute to these goals by refocusing and enhancing a successful, long-term partnership between the M.S. Program of the Biology Department of the University of Puerto Rico-Mayag?ez Campus (UPRM) and the Ph.D. programs at the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey-Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (UMDNJ). This application seeks renewal of the Bridge to the Doctoral Degree: University of Puerto Rico to University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey. The program, which has enrolled 29 students since its inception in 1998, has had notable success in recruiting students at UPR-Mayag?ez and transitioning them to the Ph.D. programs at UMDNJ, many of which are joint programs with Rutgers University (RU). Despite the positive outcomes for the Bridges students, most of the educational and research activities took place at UMDNJ/RU. Therefore, the program did not contribute to the development of resources at UPRM, nor to creating a stronger training environment at UPRM. To improve and expand the impact of this successful partnership, the current application has as its Aims: (1) to re-structure the program to be centered at UPRM, rather than at UMDNJ, thereby enhancing the overall Masters-level training environment, resources and curriculum in the Biology Department of UPR-M; (2) to increase the number of participating UPR-M students, and to increase the number who transition to Ph.D. programs, specifically at UMDNJ/RU; and (3) to maintain or increase the percent of students who enter the program and complete the Ph.D. as we transition from our previous program design to this revised structure. Major program features include: (1) Students will perform most of their M.S. coursework and thesis research at UPRM, including new seminars conducted via web- based communications by UMDNJ faculty (open to Bridges and non-Bridges students). (2) One summer will be spent in a laboratory rotation at UMDNJ, to complement their M.S. research, and become familiar with UMDNJ and environs. (3) Successful completion of the M.S. at UPRM will permit transfer to the Ph.D. programs of UMDNJ/RU with advanced standing in a chosen Ph.D. program. The proposed program will: enhance the capabilities of UPR-M; provide a stronger, more diverse Ph.D. student population at UMDNJ; increase the number of UR scientists at the Ph.D. level; and strengthen and diversify the workforce in the biological/biomedical sciences.

Public Health Relevance

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. graduates from minority-serving schools to progress to Ph.D. candidacy at partner universities. This proposal enables M.S. graduates in Biology at University of Puerto Rico-Mayag?ez Campus to matriculate into the Ph.D. programs at the 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)
Education Projects (R25)
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Study Section
Minority Programs Review Subcommittee A (MPRC)
Program Officer
Brown, Patrick
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Rbhs-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Schools of Medicine
United States
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