The majority of research training programs for individuals from underrepresented groups focus only on basic science research. Although critically important, these programs often fail to provide the motivational link between basic science research and improved health. The goal of the Mayo Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) is to increase the number of individuals from underrepresented groups who choose biomedical research careers, especially disease-oriented research. The program assists both those likely to succeed and those for whom the PREP experience may truly be pivotal in their career paths. Our hypothesis is that students from underrepresented groups increasingly choose disease-directed basic or translational research careers when they clearly see the value of this research in improving human health. Mayo's PREP is successful and mature, having been a unique cornerstone of institutional education diversity efforts since Mayo pioneered this program nationally in 1996. Mayo's ongoing commitment to diversity is supported from the highest executive level and has resulted in significant positive changes at the institution. The unique, highly-integrated clinical and biomedical research programs at Mayo provide an ideal environment to foster the career goals of apprentice scientists. Mayo's PhD graduate school, medical school, MSTP training site, and residency program are parts of the famed Mayo Clinic tertiary care center. Sustained funding of the Mayo PREP positively impacts diversity across the Mayo campus. The PREP synergizes with other ongoing Mayo diversity programs, including Mayo's NIH IMSD pre-doctoral program, URM summer research programs, and other institutionally-supported diversity education initiatives directed through Mayo's newly-formed Education Office for Diversity. Mayo's successful PREP and IMSD programs celebrate peer mentoring and mutual support between URM students across the summer undergraduate, clinical research, PREP, PhD, and MD/PhD research spectrum. This synergy is critical for student self-efficacy, identity as biomedical research scientists, and elucidation of the training path. PREP progress during the prior funding cycle, together with longitudinal data derived from 13 cohorts of prior PREP students, provides objective evidence of success in promoting graduate training leading to the PhD degree. During the next funding cycle we will maintain our successful program while increasing program evaluation, mentor training, and recruitment.
Specific aims : 1. Recruit to Mayo 9 new post-baccalaureate apprentice scientists each year (total of up to 36 over 4 years) for a program of research with intensive enrichment toward individualized student academic and professional development. PREP apprentice scientists may receive one or two years of training, depending on their needs. 2. Maintain Mayo's PREP program where >75% of post-baccalaureate apprentice scientists enter PhD or MD/PhD programs with a primary interest in laboratory-based or translational research. 3. Enrich Mayo's post-baccalaureate apprentice scientists with skills important for successful initiation and completion of the PhD degree. Each aspect of the Mayo PREP program is designed to enhance students'creativity, self-efficacy, commitment, and purpose as scientists. The program offers activities specifically designed to encourage student interest in research areas related to health disparities. 4. Improve long-term contact and ongoing mentoring of Mayo post-baccalaureate apprentice scientists through graduate school and beyond. We will achieve this goal in synergy with Mayo's NIH-funded IMSD program for minority pre-doctoral students, and with Mayo's Education Office for Diversity. 5. Continue internal and external evaluation with semi-structured interviews ensuring increased utility, feasibility, propriety, and accuracy of Mayo's PREP activities.
This research education program will provide 1 or 2 years of support and professional skills development for recent college graduates. The goal is to help students from diverse backgrounds (e.g. ethnic/racial minorities, individuals with disabilities, and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds) to advance to successful biomedical research careers at the PhD level thus contributing to the diversification of the biomedical research workforce.
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