The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is a comprehensive research university and medical complex with $224 million of NIH-funded research in 2011. UAB has a strong commitment to training undergraduate and graduate students from diverse backgrounds, including underrepresented minorities, students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and students with disabilities. UAB has established and supported several programs to help such students meet their career goals. Some potential graduate students make a decision to pursue doctoral education too late in their undergraduate career. These students may have already attained their baccalaureate degrees, but do not have the credentials for entry into top biomedical graduate programs where prior research experience and high standardized test scores are essential criteria for admittance. We have identified several potential pools from which to recruit such students. Our PREP program will continue to provide opportunities to these students who need to strengthen their credentials for entry into doctoral education. Based on our past accomplishments (8/11 past scholars now enrolled in doctoral graduate programs), UAB provides a fertile training ground to prepare PREP scholars for entry into the most competitive graduate training programs. Our overall goal is to recruit 8 students per year and to provide them a high quality research experience in the laboratories of NIH-funded mentors and multiple academic enrichment opportunities to equip them to be competitive for entry into biomedical graduate programs at top NIH-funded institutions. The students will work with their mentors to develop a challenging research project at which they will spend 80% or more of their time. An individual development plan (IDP) will also be designed for each student, to address any academic weaknesses that might affect success in future graduate attainment. The IDP will provide activities to strengthen writing and quantitative skills, provide career information, develop presentation skills, discuss research ethics, and foster networking with peers at scientific meetings, such as the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. The PREP Scholar's progress toward meeting the goals of their IDP will be monitored at least quarterly in meetings with Dr. Engler and their research mentor. The program will also provide opportunities for the scholars to interact with graduate students and student organizations (such as the Black Graduate Student Association), to build a sense of community and support for the scholars. We expect that continuing the already successful PREP Scholars program at UAB will increase the number of minority applicants who are well prepared for entry into top doctoral programs.

Public Health Relevance

To build a diverse work force, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) will identify and prepare 8 scholars from groups underrepresented in biomedical research for a series of training and academic experiences to prepare them for entry into high quality doctoral graduate programs in the U.S. These students who will already have earned a baccalaureate degree will be paired with NIH-funded faculty members at UAB who will mentor these trainees and provide high quality research experiences in biomedical sciences. Individual development plans will be tailored to each student's needs, to identify specific activities to prepare them for success in doctoral study, including academic enrichment, scientific writing, quantitative skills development, presentation skills, ethics in research, caree mentoring, and quarterly assessment of progress.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Education Projects (R25)
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Minority Programs Review Committee (MPRC)
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Bender, Michael T
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University of Alabama Birmingham
Schools of Medicine
United States
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