Neither the biomedical research workforce nor the faculty at research universities and medical schools reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the American population. In part, this is due to the limited number of underrepresented minority (URM) students who enter PhD and MD-PhD programs. Lack of substantive research experiences during undergraduate studies leaves many URM students unprepared to apply to competitive graduate programs. The goal of this Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) is to provide URM and disabled students, who want to pursue a career in biomedical research, with the intensive research experience and academic enrichment necessary to make them competitive applicants to rigorous PhD and MD-PhD programs. Einstein has a long history of successfully mentoring URM students through both its PhD and MD-PhD programs. The Einstein PREP has four major components designed to prepare trainees to apply successfully to PhD or MD-PhD programs: 1) an intensive, mentored laboratory research experience, 2) a didactic component to increase trainees' scientific knowledge and prepare them for interdisciplinary research, 3) an oral and written communications skills enhancement program, and 4) a layered mentoring system to provide the trainees with the support network they need to flourish in the program and beyond. These four components are interwoven throughout the year long program. The program begins with a two week Orientation during which trainees select their research mentor. The mentored research project emphasizes the process of hypothesis-based research, the excitement and joy of scientific discovery, and the persistence and creativity needed to achieve success. Trainees work with the Program Directors and research mentor to formulate an Individual Development Plan. Each trainee is assigned either a URM PhD or MD-PhD student peer mentor. The Einstein Minority Scientist Association will run a monthly PREP Journal Club and other social and scientific activities. The Program Directors will meet with the trainees on a weekly basis for informal and didactic sessions. This combination of didactic and experiential learning will prepare the applicants to apply successfully to highly competitive PhD and MD-PhD programs. We expect that more than 75% of our trainees will matriculate and successfully complete such programs. To date, 19 trainees have entered the program, 12 have completed and all are enrolled in PhD or MD-PhD programs, i.e., 100% success. Of the 7 trainees currently in the program, one applying to MD-PhD programs already has an acceptance; five applying to PhD programs already have multiple interview invitations. We expect that all will successfully matriculate into graduate programs. The seventh trainee will spend a second year in the program while she applies to MD-PhD programs. Our PREP alumni will ultimately expand the US biomedical workforce diversity.
The goal of this Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) is to provide underrepresented minority and disabled students who want to pursue a career in biomedical research with the intensive research experience and academic enhancement to make them competitive applicants to rigorous PhD and MD-PhD programs. This will expand the diversity of the biomedical research and teaching workforce in the United States as it seeks the best and brightest scientists to improve the health of all Americans.
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