The long-term goal of this project is to significantly increase the number of students from underrepresented groups who obtain PhD degrees in biomedical and biobehavioral fields. To this end, we will sponsor a one- year PREP internship that includes individualized programs of independent research, multi-tiered mentoring, and professional development with an interdisciplinary focus. The proposed activities are designed to increase the competitiveness of the PREP students for admission to rigorous biomedical graduate programs. Our project will capitalize on several unique strengths: A) Leadership of the Northeast Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (NEAGEP), a highly interactive network of 15 institutions with demonstrated success in recruiting and retaining minority students in STEM PhD programs; B) Well-developed programs of interdisciplinary research and graduate education in biomedicine; C) Effective multi-level mentoring programs to support diversity at all levels of academia. We have hosted 63 PREP Scholars over the past 8 years. Of the 61 who applied, 96.8% were accepted, but nearly 15% chose to go to MD or professional MS programs. 85.3% of those who enrolled in PhD programs graduated within 6 years or are in good standing. This is a very high compared with the national 6-year completion rate of approximately 40% and 10-year completion of approximately 60% in similar disciplines. But, based on our self-study, we think it is feasible to reduce attrition at these stages even more. Therefore our aims are to: 1) Increase the percentage of PREP Scholars who enter PhD programs to at least 90% by: a) Expanding our recruiting network to increase the number of applicants; b) Revising our application and selection process to better identify students committed to research careers; c) Fueling interest in earning PhD through activities of an intensive summer program that strengthens self- identification as scientists, builds a cohesive community and immerses them in research. 2) Reduce the percentage of PREP Scholars who leave PhD programs to less than 10% by: a) Enhancing our well-developed mentoring models by requiring specially developed mentoring workshops for faculty who mentor PREP Scholars. b) Conducting interactive, facilitated workshops wherein PREP Scholars and their mentors explore issues confronted by minority students in majority institutions. c) Continuing support of PREP Scholars after they enter graduate programs at UMA or elsewhere. We anticipate that PREP Scholars will enroll in one of the numerous graduate programs served by the participating interdisciplinary training programs, graduate programs in other NEAGEP institutions or in other selective graduate programs around the country. Our program will help meet the national need for biomedical researchers who can address issues of health care in all segments of our population.

Public Health Relevance

352-(&7 N$55$7,9( The underrepresentation of U.S. minorities in the biomedical and behavioral research workforce increases reliance on international talent and exacerbates healthcare disparities among racial and socioeconomic groups. Our PREP will directly address this issue through individualized programs that enhance preparation of underrepresented minority students for doctoral programs in biomedical research and increase the number who earn PhD degrees.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Education Projects (R25)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
NIGMS Initial Review Group (TWD)
Program Officer
Stepanek, Laurie Elizabeth
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Veterinary Sciences
Earth Sciences/Resources
United States
Zip Code
McDougall, Sean; Vargas Riad, Wanette; Silva-Gotay, Andrea et al. (2018) Myelination of Axons Corresponds with Faster Transmission Speed in the Prefrontal Cortex of Developing Male Rats. eNeuro 5:
Gencoglu, Maria F; Barney, Lauren E; Hall, Christopher L et al. (2018) Comparative Study of Multicellular Tumor Spheroid Formation Methods and Implications for Drug Screening. ACS Biomater Sci Eng 4:410-420
Salas-Santiago, Bryan; Lopes, John M (2014) Saccharomyces cerevisiae essential genes with an Opi- phenotype. G3 (Bethesda) 4:761-7
Vargas, Wanette M; Bengston, Lynn; Gilpin, Nicholas W et al. (2014) Alcohol binge drinking during adolescence or dependence during adulthood reduces prefrontal myelin in male rats. J Neurosci 34:14777-82
Suarez-Jimenez, Benjamin; Gore, Heather E; Hachey, Julie et al. (2013) Testosterone modulation of anxiety in gonadally-suppressed male rhesus monkeys: a role for gonadotropins? Pharmacol Biochem Behav 104:97-104