American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) are the most underrepresented racial/ethnic group among scientists in the U.S. One reason for their low representation is the cultural difference between Indigenous and Euro-American-based science, which can lead to a feeling of isolation for AI/AN students. The vision of Indigenous1 scholars within higher education and the long-term goal of the proposed University of Arizona Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (UA PREP) is to overcome these differences and increase the participation of AI/AN students in biomedical research. Due to its close proximity to many Tribal or AI/AN communities, the richness of its biomedical and behavioral research enterprise, and an institutional-level commitment to diversity and inclusion, UA is well-positioned for a PREP program. Further, UA ranks first among U.S. research-intensive universities in conferring PhD degrees to AI/AN students. The premise of the proposed PREP is that nurturing overall well-being and honoring Indigenous science knowledge while offering AI/AN students a doctoral-level research experience will provide the best foundation for success in graduate school. The current proposal seeks to provide five to eight UA PREP participants per year with an intensive research experience and additional training to enhance their competitiveness for doctoral programs. Strategic partnerships with minority-serving institutions and with programs at UA that support AI/AN undergraduates in STEM fields will be utilized to support recruitment efforts. The program will focus on students who have encountered greater than average challenges on their path to graduate school. Participants will spend 75% of their time conducting hypothesis-driven, doctoral-level research. The proposed activities for the remaining 25% of the participants' efforts will provide career development training. The matriculation and retention of AI/AN students in graduate programs will be increased by nurturing a sense of belonging within the community of science while honoring Indigenous knowledge.
We aim to have at least 75% of the trainees matriculate into biomedical PhD programs. Their retention and success in these programs will be enhanced by foundations laid in UA PREP. Participants will be encouraged to incorporate their cultural values into their individual development plans. Further, program activities will nurture community engagement with frequent opportunities to interact with Native and non-Native science faculty and graduate students. The capacity of UA to train AI/AN graduate students will be fostered through annual workshops aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of faculty in mentoring students and increasing cultural sensitivity and awareness of and integration of Indigenous science methods into the curriculum. A selection committee of research-active mentors will recommend the strongest applicants to UA PREP for approval by the Institutional Advisory Committee. This committee and an expert external evaluator will regularly assess progress towards the UA PREP program objectives. 1Indigenous and Native American are used here, respectively, for Indigenous groups internationally and in the U.S. 1

Public Health Relevance

American Indians/Alaskan Natives (AI/AN) are the most underrepresented racial/ethnic minorities in the biomedical sciences. The University of Arizona Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (UA PREP) seeks to provide AI/AN students with a rigorous research and educational program that honors Indigenous perspectives and nurtures a strong sense of well-being and belonging. This program will enhance the confidence and success of participants and their matriculation into strong biomedical PhD programs and subsequently increase the diversity of PhD-level scientists.

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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Brown, Anissa F
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University of Arizona
Schools of Medicine
United States
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