Increasing the diversity of the biomedical workforce is an important national goal to which the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) contributes. With over $320 million of federally funded research, UAB is an ideal site for a program to prepare graduate students for careers in biomedical sciences. UAB is a comprehensive research university and medical complex, classified as ?doctoral ? very research intensive?. Its doctoral training programs encompass all major research areas, including substantial strengths in the biomedical sciences. UAB has an outstanding record of successful training for graduate students and a strong commitment to training doctoral students from diverse backgrounds. UAB has established several (currently active) programs to help both undergraduate students from underserved groups who aspire to doctoral careers and graduate students who need financial support to pursue graduate studies. Specifically, the UAB PREP Scholars Program (established in 2009) provides an additional pathway for a diverse pool of postbaccalaureate applicants to enter doctoral programs in the biomedical sciences. Some undergraduate students from underserved groups decide to pursue doctoral education too late in their college career, making them less competitive applicants that those that decide earlier. Others may have had limited opportunities to engage in high-quality research experiences due to limitations at their undergraduate institutions. The UAB PREP Scholars Program will provide these individuals with significant financial and academic support, research experience, and educational and professional development training to increase their competitiveness for entry into biomedical-related doctoral graduate programs at top-tier research institutions and ensure success in completing their Ph.D. degrees. Our overall goal for the UAB PREP Scholars Program is for 75% of participants to both enter and complete biomedical doctoral graduate programs. During the training period, scholars will work with their faculty mentors to develop an independent research project upon 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 their success in matriculating into doctoral graduate programs. In addition, extensive professional development training will be provided to the scholars to strengthen writing and quantitative skills, raise awareness for career options, develop presentation skills, discuss research ethics, and foster networking with peers at scientific meetings, such as the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. Progress of scholars towards meeting the goals of their IDP will be monitored by regular meetings with PREP Directors and the research mentor.
To build a diverse work force, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) PREP Scholars Program will identify and prepare eight scholars per year 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 individuals will be paired with extramurally funded faculty members at UAB, who will mentor them and provide high quality research experiences in biomedical sciences. The program curriculum will be tailored to each scholars? needs after identifying specific activities to prepare them for success in doctoral study, including academic enrichment, scientific writing, quantitative skills development, presentation skills, ethics in research, career mentoring, and quarterly assessment of progress.
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