The long term goal of the UTSA RISE Program is to cultivate exceptional underrepresented minority (URM) scientists who pursue doctoral-level careers in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. UTSA is a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) with 28,959 students (60.5% URM), 24 PhD programs, and quality research programs in fields pertinent to the NIH mission, including include medicinal chemistry, neurobiology, microbiology, stem cell science, biomedical engineering, and military mental health. UTSA is strategically pursuing Tier One research status while maintaining its commitment to the education of URM South Texas populations. In the 2012-2016 academic years, UTSA graduated 138 PhD students in RISE-supported majors; 20 were URM and 18 were RISE trainees. Over the same timeframe, 101 former UTSA UGs (53 URM and 12 from RISE) earned a doctorate in pertinent fields. The proposed RISE program will train URM students from six PhD programs and seven undergraduate (UG) majors in the departments of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Psychology, and Biomedical Engineering. RISE requests training positions for 16 UG (reduced from 20) and 20 PhD students (increased from 16). UGs will be supported for up to four years and PhD students for five.
The specific aims are: #1 Improve the current undergraduate training program content and administrative processes to further reduce trainee attrition and enhance student preparation for doctoral training; #2 Enhance the current doctoral training program by improving career and professional development training; and #3 Increase the number of URM students who are retained in STEM fields and who pursue doctoral degrees in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. The UG training sequence will be made more comprehensive and stage-appropriate, and attrition will be reduced to 15% through improved mentoring, monitoring, psychosocial training, selection practices, and competition for positions. PhD trainees will be prepared for post-graduate positions through enhanced professional experiences and intensive training for the application process. Additional innovative approaches for enhancing the number of future URM scientists will be implemented, including using RISE PhD positions to increase URM recruitment and admittance at UTSA, developing a Science Teaching Program to grow UTSA graduate students into exceptional science instructors, implementing a Science Transfer Academy (STA) to support and connect transitioning community college students with the UTSA research community, and formalizing a ?volunteer? RISE training program (RISE-2 the PhD) to expand the UG training population. Through these activities, RISE proposes to increase UG matriculation from 50 to 55%, of whom 80% will be retained in their PhD programs. At least 85% of RISE PhD trainees will complete their degree. At least 65% of STA trainees will achieve a 3.0 or higher UTSA GPA in their first semester and 70% will be retained in at UTSA in STEM fields after one year. At least five additional URM PhD students will be admitted above program baselines, and at least one RISE-2 the PhD trainee will start doctoral training annually.

Public Health Relevance

Increasing the number of researchers from scientifically-underrepresented groups will promote biomedical advancement in the United States. The proposed RISE Program supports recruitment, training, retention and matriculation of underrepresented undergraduate students into doctoral programs, and prepares doctoral trainees for successful research careers. The program will also support community college students transitioning to UTSA, improve science teaching, broadly impact UTSA and the San Antonio community, and contribute to UTSA?s development as a Tier One research institution.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Education Projects (R25)
Project #
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Study Section
NIGMS Initial Review Group (TWD)
Program Officer
Brown, Anissa F
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University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio
Schools of Arts and Sciences
San Antonio
United States
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