For the last three decades, biomedical research has been expanding rapidly and has made a great impact in producing high quality skilled professionals in the U.S. However, minorities and the underprivileged continue to be underrepresented (UR) in this work force. While the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and other reports show that US students are greatly improving their academic preparedness compared to students from most other nations, our country's minorities and underprivileged students remain relatively poorly prepared to enter high technology careers such as biomedical and behavioral sciences. As a result, minorities, who constitute about 29% of the total population, represent only about 7% of Ph.D. degrees in biomedical and behavioral sciences and hold only about 4% of the R01 biomedical and behavioral research grants. Many UR students are deprived of the opportunity to experience early engagement in science and math. Therefore, because they lack the skills and exposure to move directly into 4-year baccalaureate programs, they enter into 2-year programs at the community and technical colleges. The UofL Bridges to Baccalaureate (ULBB) program will involve the University of Louisville (UofL) and Jefferson Community and Technical College (JCTC) joining forces to develop a sustainable program that will introduce underrepresented and disadvantaged community college students to the career opportunities available in biomedical and behavioral research and prepare them for successful transition from a 2-year program at JCTC to a 4-year STEM related baccalaureate program at UofL. The ULBB program will focus on: 1) strengthening the partnership between JCTC and UofL to increase the recruitment of underrepresented minority and economically disadvantaged high school students into a pathway to biomedical research careers, increasing the graduation rate in Associate in Science (AS) from 12% in 3 years to 50% in 2 years, 2) providing a pipeline of support and mentoring personnel and programs, including academic enrichments, career development training and research experience during each 10-week summer program (two summers) at UofL under the mentorship of internationally renowned faculty that will enhance transfer rate from a current 30% to 70% of ULBB-supported students, and 3) continued mentoring and counseling of students transferred from JCTC to UofL in a small group setting, promoting their involvement in existing undergraduate education programs to improve the present graduation rate of 33% to 70% of our transferred ULBB students, leading to increased recruitment to biomedical research graduate education and careers. The ULBB program is innovative and will not only impact the underrepresented and underprivileged students themselves but also the broader curricular, advising, and research programs of both partner institutions and the pool of diverse, well-qualified scientists entering biomedical research careers.

Public Health Relevance

The UofL Bridges to Baccalaureate (ULBB) program will involve the University of Louisville (UofL) and Jefferson Community and Technical College (JCTC) joining forces to develop a program that facilitates the transition of outstanding students from underrepresented background and enrolled in a two-year program at JCTC, to enter into 4-year STEM related baccalaureate programs at UofL. The ULBB program will focus on underrepresented individuals in the STEM fields, especially on African-American, Hispanic, and economically disadvantaged students, and will provide paid research internships for the students to participate with funded researchers at UofL. The ULBB program will also focus on providing academic preparation combined with extensive pre- and post-transfer mentoring that will facilitate student transfer to 4-year STEM programs and successful completion of the baccalaureate degree, with the ultimate goal of increasing recruitment to biomedical research careers.

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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Blatch, Sydella Anne
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University of Louisville
Schools of Medicine
United States
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