The University of Kansas (KU) requests renewal of its Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program (KU PREP). KU PREP seeks to train an additional thirty-five scholars over five years to pursue research doctorates and become leaders in the biomedical workforce, placing special emphasis on increasing the number of American Indian (AI) scholars conducting doctorate-level biomedical research. KU is a premier research institution classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a ?Doctoral University: Very High Research Activity? and is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU). KU PREP recruits a diverse array of qualified scholars and is uniquely positioned to recruit and train AI scholars due to long-standing and wide-ranging collaborations between KU and Haskell Indian Nations University (both located in Lawrence, Kansas). The activities of KU PREP scholars are shaped by a comprehensive individual development plan (IDP) that is initiated prior to the scholars? arrival on campus and is continually re-evaluated and adjusted by the scholars and the PREP mentoring team. Research training is a central focus of the IDP, and each KU PREP scholar completes a research project in a biomedically-focused laboratory that develops the scholar?s ability to create and test a scientific hypothesis and obtain the skills necessary to conduct independent, reproducible biomedical research. PREP scholars also enroll in coursework that improves their quantitative/computational and data analysis competencies and participate in activities focused on developing their oral and written scientific communication skills. Each scholar?s work culminates with a presentation at the annual KU-Haskell Research Symposium and the completion of a journal style article on their research project. KU PREP?s Professional and Personal Development series focuses on promoting scholars? well-being (e.g., building resilience and addressing common challenges faced by scientists from underrepresented groups), helping them mature as professionals while maintaining their cultural identities, and increasing their self-efficacy and science identity. The mentoring team works closely with scholars to establish and strengthen a comprehensive support network that they will be able to utilize during PREP and their subsequent doctoral programs. This network includes the scholar?s PREP research mentor and other KU research collaborators and peers, members of the PREP team, and (ultimately) the scholar?s graduate research advisor and other individuals/groups specifically identified to provide necessary support at the scholar?s graduate institution. KU PREP alumni also play a key role in the support network, and communications between current KU PREP scholars and alumni are now greatly facilitated by our participation in the KU Alumni Association?s online mentoring network. Regular evaluation of the program allows KU PREP to build on its successes while addressing challenges and seeking new ways to improve and innovate, in our efforts to meet the goal of diversifying the biomedical research workforce, particularly concerning the participation of AI scholars.
The proposed project will increase the diversity of the scientific community by preparing American Indians and other underrepresented students for graduate study and eventual careers in biomedical research. Because of the breadth of disciplines, the project will increase interest from a wide range of perspectives in research regarding diseases with a high incidence in minority populations, improving both health care and disease prevention in this country.
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