The University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) seeks funding to continue its summer undergraduate research program for undergraduates from groups traditionally under-represented in biomedical research or from disadvantaged backgrounds, and students with disabilities. The research training opportunities available through this short-term training experience span the range from basic to translational to clinical/epidemiologic research. Therefore, the program is very well suited to support the research interests of a broad range of trainees. Many of these research training experiences are in areas supported within the research portfolio of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Importantly, UMMS provides a very intensive research environment attracting more than $280 million in research funding in 2016. In 2010 UMMS received a Clinical and Translational Science Award, one of sixty-two elite institutions in the US to receive this award. The NIH funded program supports 15 trainees annually. This renewal application seeks to increase this to 20 trainees annually. There is significant institutional support for the research training program. The UMMS Office of Research provides matching funds each year for additional 9 trainees for the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) for students who do not meet NIH selection criteria. Both programs are run in parallel, provide identical experiences, and are led by the Program Directors. In addition, each year over fifty- five UMMS faculty members serve as mentors/lab hosts to the trainees, selection committee members, lecturers and poster judges for the program. The UMMS summer undergraduate research program is a highly structured program. In addition to the research experience, trainees must provide an abstract of their work and develop a poster for a Closing Poster session open to the entire UMMS research community. Additional elements of the program include an orientation to research with lectures on: keeping a laboratory notebook; the responsible conduct of research; animal safety; chemical safety and radiation safety; as well as the responsible conduct of research. During the first two weeks of the program there are six lectures on recent or ?breaking? issues in biomedical research. Trainees are randomly divided into small groups (8 ? 9 each) for weekly Small Group Discussion sessions (weeks 4 ? 9) led by junior faculty members or senior postdoctoral fellows where they discuss their research and dissect the elements that constitute an effective poster presentation. Twice during the program each trainee attends a small group Breakfast Club meeting with the Program Co-Directors, providing opportunities for more intimate interaction with the program leadership. Additional networking opportunities are provided via luncheon discussions with UMMS leaders and faculty, networking sessions with the Dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS), the MD/PhD Program Director, and current GSBS PhD and MD/PhD students. Trainees are housed in residential suites in a local college dormitory with weekday transportation to/from UMMS provided. This housing arrangement provides a mechanism for bonding and networking among the program participants, further enhancing the nascent scientific and professional network of the trainees. At the end of each program trainees complete an extensive program evaluation. Information derived from the evaluation is tracked year-to-year and used to improve the program. Mentors/lab hosts also evaluate the performance of the trainees ? once during the program, and again at the conclusion of the program. This structure has resulted in success with over 500 trainees participating through NIH support since the program's inception. Of these, 14 have completed or remain in combined MD/PhD training programs, 31 have completed or remain in PhD training programs, and program participants have been included as authors or acknowledged in almost 400 peer reviewed publications and scientific meeting presentations. Continued NIH funding will allow this successful program to continue through years 26-30.
Efforts to improve the diversity of the medical, biomedical and behavioral research workforce are important. This training program provides short-term research training experiences to college undergraduates interested in careers in the biomedical sciences and/or the health professions. These efforts have stimulated and sustained the interests of students in these career paths. By increasing the diversity of the biomedical and behavioral science workforce, the efforts of this proposal will enhance research efforts and positively impact health outcomes.
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