The biomedical research community is underrepresented in populations of certain ethnic origin, with disability and of disadvantage background, in part because research universities have failed to recruit and graduate from biomedical doctoral degrees sufficient numbers of doctoral students from these populations (UR). The UW PREP program seeks to increase the number of UR students in biomedical graduate programs by (i) recruiting promising recently graduated UR students to the program; and (ii) providing them with research experience, professional development and mentorship, leading to their successful enrollment and graduation in first rated pre-doctoral programs. In the first two funding cycles, PREP has recruited 53 fellows; approximately 80% of them have reached graduate school in a premier biomedical research program; of these, 75% have graduated with PhD?s or are still in graduate school. The results of UW PREP demonstrate that its plan to develop the fellows, centered on a year-long research experience patterned after graduate school, supplemented by a targeted set of professional development activities, will allow applicants to be admitted to and then succeed in high-caliber biomedical pre- doctoral programs. The foundation of this proposal and the reason for the success of UW PREP are the enthusiasm of the trainees; the large group of highly accomplished and well-funded research laboratories at the University of Washington (UW) and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; and the support of pre- doctoral and training programs that participate in UW PREP and with which PREP dovetails. From this very large pool of investigators is drawn the core group of faculty mentors, Advisory and Executive committee members listed in this application; all accomplished scientists closely associated with UW PREP and with a demonstrated commitment to mentoring undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral URM fellows, including previous UW PREP fellows. The objectives of this renewal of the UW PREP program remain as follows: (i) all fellows will apply for admission into biomedical graduate programs; (ii) at least 75% of them will successfully enter first-rated pre- doctoral graduate programs; (iii) at least 75% of them will graduate with a doctoral degree. UW PREP will match each fellow with a research laboratory mentor to conduct a year long, hypothesis-driven research project. Co-mentoring by the program leadership will provide mentorship and advising about graduate school application and choice and more. Professional development activities based on each fellow?s individual development program (IDP) will increase scientific skills in writing, presentations, the interpretation of the scientific literature and bioethics, and supplemental didactic training will fill gaps in preparation. Self-confidence and scientific identity will be fostered through a variety of scientific and social forums with URM groups in Seattle. Independent evaluation will measure the program?s impact, and guide the implementation of any required programmatic change.

Public Health Relevance

The UW PREP program contributes to enhancing the diversity of the biomedical research community by annually recruiting seven fellows from a pool of recent graduates belonging to groups underrepresented in the biomedical sciences to prepare them for successful application to and graduation from first-rated biomedical pre-doctoral programs. The fellows will engage in a year-long intensive research project and receive professional training in scientific writing, public presentations and scientific communication and in the bioethical conduct of research. All fellows will apply for admission to multiple PhD or MD/PhD programs during their tenure in the program, with the goal that at least 75% of them will be accepted into pre-doctoral program and at least 75% of these will graduate with a doctoral degree, as was accomplished in the first two funding periods.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Education Projects (R25)
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NIGMS Initial Review Group (TWD)
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Stepanek, Laurie Elizabeth
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University of Washington
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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