This proposal seeks the renewal of the Opportunities in Genomics Research (OGR) Program. Since 2007, the OGR Program has been run out of The McDonnell Genome Institute at Washington University in Saint Louis and funded through the NHGRI's Diversity Action Plan. The mission of the OGR Program is to increase the representation of students from underrepresented groups in genome science or genome science-related PhD and MD/PhD programs. We seek to accomplish our mission through the effective execution and evolution of summer undergraduate and academic year post-baccalaureate research programs for students from racial and ethnic backgrounds underrepresented in the sciences, students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and students with disabilities. Both OGR programs provide trainees with cutting-edge research experiences in genome science or related fields and 11 other educational activities that seek to train them to think critically and to write and speak effectively about their research. Workshops and classes are tailored to train students in the core concepts of genome science, bioinformatics, and scientific presentation. Professional development activities focus on helping students prepare for and excel in graduate school interviews and graduate school itself. Over its three funding cycles, student outcomes for the OGR program reveal great momentum. PhD matriculation of students in our summer program rose from 29% in the first cycle to 50% or above the last two cycles. More impressively, PhD matriculation of students in our post-baccalaureate program rose from 44% in the first cycle to 75% in the second cycle and 90% in the current cycle. We expect the implementation of new and modified activities to solidify and extend these gains. Specifically, new activities will promote integration among OGR trainees and trainees in the NHGRI T32 PhD Genomic Sciences program, enhance training in bioinformatics, provide trainees with greater exposure to the diversity of research careers available to PhD scientists, and initiate community outreach events to under-served area high schools and their students. Based on the past success and current plans of our program, we seek support for five more years of funding to continue our mission of enhancing diversity in PhD programs nation-wide. We propose to expand our post- baccalaureate program to five trainees per year, and with university support, to maintain the size of our summer undergraduate program at eight students per summer. We believe our programs will continue to help realize the great scientific and intellectual potential inherent within the diverse population of the United States, much of which currently lies latent due to the underrepresentation of many sectors of our nation's population within scientific research in general and genome science in particular.
The Opportunities in Genomics Research (OGR) Program is designed to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups who pursue PhDs in genome science and related fields. OGR runs a summer undergraduate research program and an academic year post-baccalaureate research program. Through a suite of educational activities, these programs seek to train students to think critically and to write and speak effectively about their research project and science in general, and ultimately prepare them to gain acceptance to and succeed in top biomedical PhD programs nationwide.
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