The long-term objective of UNC PREP in the Biomedical Sciences is to increase the number of highly trained under-represented (UR) biomedical scientists in leadership positions who can significantly impact the health-related research needs of the nation. The immediate goal of UNC PREP is to equip, encourage, and empower talented UR post-baccalaureates to matriculate and excel in top biological and biomedical graduate programs. Since its inception in 2010, UNC PREP has strived to support the unique needs of each scholar and to facilitate their transition into competitive PhD or MD/PhD programs and research careers. We will continue to provide immersive high-quality research experiences, relevant comprehensive professional development training, supportive program staff with scientific research backgrounds, and cohesive community of like-minded scholars with similar professional goals. An overarching theme of UNC PREP is for each scholar to develop their ?science identity? and to acquire scientific self-efficacy, so that they see themselves as belonging in the greater scientific community. In addition, UNC PREP provides each trainee with a network of colleagues and mentors who can offer guidance and support success throughout their career.
The specific aims for UNC PREP are 1) to formulate and carry out Individual Development Plans (IDPs) for each scholar, 2) to provide an immersive research experience under the direction of a UNC faculty member (75% time), 3) to provide comprehensive relevant coursework and professional development (25% time) for building additional skills important for a successful science career, and 4) to have at least 80% of scholars transition directly into competitive biomedical PhD programs. The program components will be continuously evaluated using quantitative and qualitative measures of student progress and outcomes and will drive evolution of program components to maximize positive outcomes and the development of well trained and prepared scholars. During the first six years of UNC PREP, 89% of our scholars transitioned directly into top biomedical PhD programs with 94% retention in or completion of these programs. This competitive renewal will continue to build upon the highly effective strategies of UNC PREP. Ultimate success of UNC PREP will be defined as scholars completing PhD programs and entering high-quality postdoctoral positions, and later, faculty and leadership positions in academia, government, or industry.
While U.S. demographics are becoming increasingly diverse, many groups of individuals are underrepresented in the biomedical sciences. As studies indicate that diverse teams outperform homogenous teams, this underrepresentation compromises the capacity to build high-performing scientific research teams. Thus, the goal of UNC PREP in the Biomedical Sciences is to address this need by equipping, encouraging, and empowering talented undergraduates from under-represented groups to pursue and succeed in top biomedical graduate programs and careers through immersive, mentored research experiences and comprehensive relevant professional development.
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