The number of underrepresented minorities (URM) receiving graduate training in the biological and physical sciences continues to be small despite increases in the total population. Major obstacles for URMs applying to and being admitted to graduate programs in the biomedical sciences include limited research experience, limited advanced courses in the biological sciences, unfamiliarity with the application process, unawareness of career opportunities for PhD's, and lower scores on standardized tests (e.g., GRE's). Recognizing these issues and the need to increase the diversity of its own doctoral programs and faculty as well as the field as a whole, Harvard's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences initiated a formal post-baccalaureate pilot program in the life sciences called the Research Scholar Initiative. This proposal seeks to expand this program by establishing a Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP Scholars Program). The program will provide a 1-2 year research and educational training opportunity for individuals interested in pursuing PhD's/ScD's in either the traditional lab-based biomedical sciences (referred to as Life Sciences) or non-lab based biomedical sciences (referred to as Population Health Sciences). The goals are to 1) provide a personalized research education and training opportunity for 10 scholars/yr; 2) have at least 90% complete at least one year of research training; and 3) have a minimum of 75% apply to and be admitted to top doctoral (PhD or ScD) or in some cases, MD/PhD programs in the biomedical sciences. In addition, by providing early exposure of the trainees in the Life Sciences and Population Health Sciences to the disciplines of the other, we hope to enable them to better understand research in each other's areas and plant the seeds of interdisciplinary collaborations in their future research programs. Goals will be achieved by 1) PREP Scholars doing independent research with faculty in the Life and Population Health Sciences for one year and possibly two years; 2) developing a personalized program to enhance academic preparation (e.g., quantitative methods, cell biology, computing, etc.); 3) Establishing an advisory committee for each scholar to expand their mentoring network; 4) Having Scholars participate in program-specific courses and workshops designed to build skills critical for graduate school success; 5) Engaging them in research discussions that will expose PREP Scholars to Population Health and Life Sciences research; 6) Familiarize scholars with graduate training environment by providing opportunities to interact with current students and faculty in our program and other programs in the area.
Diversity and inclusion in the biomedical workforce at all levels is critical to maintaining excellence. This grant seeks to address the issues of diversity and workforce development raised in the recent report by the Biomedical Workforce Advisory Committee through the development of a tailored academic and research-training program for post-baccalaureates interested in pursuing doctoral degrees in two broad areas of biomedical sciences, which we designate as the life and population sciences. The program will provide post-baccalaureates from disadvantaged backgrounds and groups underrepresented in the sciences with a one or two year mentored-research and academic experience at Harvard University.