Over the past 4 years, Lawson State and Jefferson State Community Colleges (LSCC, JSCC) and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) joined together to develop a dynamic program bridging community college students into biomedical education at 4-year institutions and then on to biomedical and behavioral graduate programs and careers. Bridges to Biomedical Careers (BBC) proposed that 80% of its students would enter into a 4-year college program in biomedical and behavioral sciences, 75% would gain a BS, 35% would enter biomedical graduate education and 35% would enter biomedical careers. Joint STEM education collaborations among the 3 schools, aggressive recruitment and close faculty and peer mentoring were important in BBC?s success. 59 students have entered BBC, 86% have completed an AS in a biomedical- related field, 100% are graduates or still in BBC, 100% are underrepresented minorities, and 5 are in biomedical graduate programs. BBC II will enhance this success further by closer interactions among the 3 colleges in research and education and increased faculty, peer mentoring, and new collaborative biomedical courses on the 3 campuses. An additional 5 years of student tracking will allow us to identify of BBC/BBCII elements that predict which students will gain most from various aspects of BBC/BBC II. Biomedical research is expanding rapidly in the US; however, minorities continue to be underrepresented in this workforce. Minorities constitute ~29% of the US population, but hold only ~7% of PhD degrees and only ~4% of RO1 grants in biomedical and behavioral science. Many minority students lack early engagement and opportunities to develop skills and content knowledge to complete BS programs. BBCII will provide students at community colleges with educational opportunities, internships and mentoring that will introduce them biomedical and behavioral research and prepare them for rigorous advanced coursework at UAB. The students will be paid for their summer research internships and for research/mentoring opportunities during the school year. Students will be encouraged to be peer mentors to newer BBC II students, thus facilitating a successful transition to UAB and beyond. Top performing interns will be recruited to return to their community college to talk to students about their research and how to become a biomedical researcher. The Broader Impact of BBC II will be to create a new cadre of minority individuals in biomedical and behavioral research. The Intellectual Merit will be to identify methods that engage and prepare underrepresented students for careers in biomedical and behavioral research. The two community colleges are different, and thus BBC II will identify best methods for diverse students.
Blazing to Biomedical Careers II (BBC II) will continue to greatly facilitate the transition of community college students into biomedical and behavioral education at the undergraduate and graduate university level and advance these students into careers in biomedical and behavioral sciences, some as research leaders and others as major support staff. BBC II will focus on underrepresented individuals in these fields, especially on African-American, Hispanic and rural underserved students and will provide paid research internships for the students before each year of community college education that will help them to master the science content and skills that they will need in their college preparation. It will also provide excellent faculty and peer mentoring that will assist them in bridging successfully to and through the 4-year institution and will build on our success in BBC, enhancing the student pipeline to biomedical and behavioral research careers.