Minorities continue to be underrepresented in biomedical PhD programs and, thus, the biomedical workface does not reflect the diversity of our nation. Rush University will contribute to the training of underrepresented minority PhD students in biomedical sciences by establishing a new Rush Initiative to Maximize Student Performance (IMSD). We recognize that success in the modern age of biomedical research involves two important arms, one is classical training of graduate students to be productive scientists and the other is the development of professional tools that are increasingly relevant to navigate a rigorous PhD program and one's career thereafter. Towards this end, the Rush IMSD will integrate scientific and professional training activities to ensure that Rush IMSD participant will be fully prepared to complete the PhD program and enter the biomedical workforce. Specifically, we will: 1) Establish training activities to secure key tools necessary to develop ino a productive PhD student and a scientist, including training modules on how to choose a dissertation research advisor (mentor), utilization of helpful research tools, grant writing and review, poster and oral presentations, and education in challenges that face minorities in science, and 2) Establish training activities to support the professional development of Rush IMSD participants and provide them with coping skills to manage the demands of a PhD program and a career in science. These professional skills will be provided through interactive training modules in several areas such as conflict resolution, time management, verbal and respectful non-verbal communication, emotional intelligence, personal financial budgeting and fiscal responsibility of running a lab, exposure to career opportunities in biomedical research, and interviewing skills. Rush IMSD participants will be monitored by an IMSD-student advisory committee, which will ensure their continued success and devise intervention plans. The Rush IMSD program will be steered by internal and external advisory committees. The program will be evaluated by an outside group through a well- integrated process to track, report, and assess long-term outcomes of Rush IMSD trainees. Strength of the Rush IMSD will be a smaller university setting that can facilitate meaningful interactions between faculty and IMSD participants, yet nationally recognized leaders in their respective fields who have a strong record of teaching and mentorships. Collectively, we anticipate that these efforts will increase enrollment of minority PhD students at Rush, support their education and professional development, and that the Rush IMSD instituted model for graduate student training will evolve into a platform that has university sustainability and partnerships.

Public Health Relevance

Minority students are underrepresented in PhD programs and in the biomedical workforce in general. The Rush Initiative to Maximize Student Development (IMSD) provides an innovative and a well-integrated approach to promote PhD completion by underrepresented minority (URM) biomedical students and provides IMSD participants with the tools to place them in a path of success thereafter. The program involves traditional/classical training activities for scientists including training in grant writing and oral presentations and professional development training activities such as time management and conflict resolution, to name a few. These integrated activities will enhance the skills of URM students to develop into productive scientists and professionals so that they complete the PhD program and become equipped with essential tools to navigate a rigorous career in biomedical research.

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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Ravichandran, Veerasamy
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Rush University Medical Center
Schools of Medicine
United States
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