The goal of the NIMG R25 IPERT program is to support educational activities that complement and/or enhance the training of a workforce to meet the nation?s biomedical, behavioral and clinical research needs. This funding opportunity encourages activities and outreach programs with a primary focus on courses for skills development, structured mentoring activities, and outreach programs to create a highly skilled and diverse workforce. A major challenge facing the toxicology profession is a lack of a diversified workforce. Although the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) has recognized this problem for many years and indeed has tried to address it through different funding mechanisms, the number of underrepresented individuals in the toxicology profession remains disappointingly low. Therefore, a new approach is needed to close the gap. One of the shortcomings of recruiting undergraduates into the toxicology graduate research programs is a lack of undergraduate toxicology training programs in the country. Toxicology is taught starting at graduate level. Because of the lack of awareness and knowledge about toxicology and its role in the protection of human, animal, and environmental health, undergraduates with interest in pursuing graduate education naturally will not consider it as an option. UC Davis in Davis, CA, in partnership with The Society of Toxicology (SOT), are collaborating with Iowa State University (ISU) in Ames, IA , Tuskegee University (TU), Tuskegee, AL, and The Ohio State University (OSU), Columbus OH, to deliver a one-year long undergraduate toxicology mentoring and skills development training (ToxMSDT) program. ToxMSDT has two specific aims.
Specific Aim #1 : Delivery of a mentoring program to underrepresented undergraduate students enrolled in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Specific Aim #2 : Delivery of an online training program consisting of case studies and short e-modules for skills development. This innovative flexible online program is accessible on mobile devices as well as from computers connected to the internet and is open to the general public 24/7. In this regard, this is a unique toxicology outreach program. We propose increase enrollment to 20 undergraduate students each year and to expand recruitment nationally, inclusive of all underrepresented segments of the US population. Expected outcomes of this unique training program include: a) at least 65% of program alumni engaging in subsequent research programs, internships or other relevant activities in toxicology or a related area in the biomedical sciences professions; b) at least 50% of program alumni applying to toxicology, or related biomedical sciences graduate programs or joining the toxicology workforce; c) a sustained network of toxicology students, researchers and professionals committed to expanding toxicology mentoring and career opportunities for underrepresented segments of the US population.
There is a critical lack of individuals from under-represented segments of the US population in the toxicology workforce and the Society of Toxicology (SOT) is pleased to serve as a partner in the Toxicology Mentoring and Skills Development Training (ToxMSDT) Program that has a purpose to mentor high undergraduate students from underrepresented groups to build a pathway for toxicology research and workforce. Together SOT and the ToxMSDT will establish a sustained network of toxicology students, researchers, and professionals committed to expanding toxicology mentoring and career opportunities for underrepresented segments of the US population. Thus, contributing to the development of a diverse toxicology workforce in solving toxicology-related health issues.