African Americans and Latino/Hispanic Americans have a higher risk of death from heart disease and stroke than any other ethnic group in the US. These same ethnic groups are also at risk for many severe inherited blood disorders such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia, which are prevalent only in minority populations. Moreover, they are more likely than other ethnic groups to suffer common respiratory diseases such as asthma. Many of these diseases impact the heart, lung, and blood, which are the focus of cutting-edge research at the University of Pittsburgh. And they offer a unique platform to recruit underrepresented minority professionals into the health sciences. Importantly, diversity in the scientific workforce promotes the recruitment of the most talented researchers from all ethnic groups, and it improves the ability to recruit subjects from a diverse background in clinical trial, to collectively help to address and eliminate health disparity. Thus, we will establish the Pittsburgh Undergraduate Research Diversity Program (PURDIP), to prepare the next generation of URM physician-scientists, and basic and behavioral scientists, to help to eliminate health disparity in the US. We will achieve this objective by blending rigorous scientific tutelage with compassionate mentoring and role modeling to URM undergraduates who have an interest in science to prepare them for higher education. A total of seventy faculty at the University of Pittsburgh, and External Advisory Board members from a broad group of disciplines including cardiology, hematology, sleep, vascular biology, coagulation and thrombosis, transfusion medicine, and regenerative medicine are available to provide an array of basic, behavioral, translational and clinical research topics, and mentoring to carry out this project. Training will incorporate didactic lectures, seminars, workshops, group homework, hands-on research and presentations by the trainees.
Three specific aims are proposed; a) to provide an intensive didactic and group- study course in fundamentals of biomedical and behavioral research and health disparity, b) to enhance the competitiveness of URM undergraduates to enroll in MD/PhD and PhD programs by enriching their portfolios with cutting-edge mentored research experiences, c) to help URM undergraduate students master the critical skills needed to navigate the application process for graduate and other health profession careers. All components of this program will be continuously evaluated to attain the highest standards of promoting diversity in health related research.
There is ethnic disparity in many aspects of health in the United States. African Americans and Latino/Hispanic Americans have a higher risk of death from heart disease, and a disproportionally lower number of both minority groups are employed in the health professions and participate in clinical research. One approach to addressing these disparities is to increase the number of underrepresented minorities who pursue careers in the health professions. Thus, we will establish an intensive summer research education program to prepare and motivate underrepresented minority students to enroll in MD/PhD and PhD programs, building on the University of Pittsburgh?s track record in achieving success in such programs.