This is a new application for a short term (summer, 10 week) training program in cardiovascular science for under-represented, undergraduate scholars. We propose a unique training experience that builds upon existing collaboration with a core group of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) that seeks to create a new paradigm promoting the pathway to health science careers and aspirational life choices for a cadre of under-represented undergraduate scholars. The proposed program provides an intellectually, socially and culturally rewarding experience to engage scholars at multiple levels. We leverage the expertise Vanderbilt University to cultivate academic knowledge and research skills and AHA/ASA's public health leadership position to provide an integrated training program against a social determinants of health backdrop. We will provide a 10 week research intensive immersion for a cadre of 10 students, expanding to 15 in years 4 and 5. We have a pool of distinguished mentors with diverse interests related to cardiovascular science and disease. The leadership team is composed of senior individuals with overlapping expertise in cardiovascular disease, mentoring, and community engagement. In addition to an intense, mentored research experience in the area of cardiovascular science, we will offer unique perspectives and resources, provide a productive framework to fully understand health inequities, and foster invaluable connections among scholars and their mentors and communities. We posit that students on the path to professions in science, medicine, healthcare or public policy must also be trained on real-life community engagement and cultural competency. They must be aware and knowledgeable of the forces shaping the health disparities so prevalent in the nation, in addition to the social determinants of health that determine the nature and severity of those disparities. Our overall goal is ambitious and innovative; we seek to create a cadre of students that will ultimately become the integrators needed to connect science and systems of health care with underrepresented communities through their academic and professional credentials, ability to build and retain trust, and cultural competence skills. We will fulfill this vision through: an intensive academic research and training immersion experience, with mentoring as a central component; regular opportunities to interact with their peers and acquire the core values of collaboration, teamwork and personal enrichment; and exposure to AHA/ASA initiatives targeted to address health inequities through public awareness, education, policy and social change. Together, we will thus provide an exciting and comprehensive experience to minority scholars poised to make career-defining, life-changing decisions with future implications for the biological, behavioral, and social determinants of health across the nation.
Undergraduate students are funded to complete a mentored, summer (10 weeks) research experience in a laboratory addressing an aspect of cardiovascular disease that is supplemented with training in critical thinking and exposure to the complexities that underlie health disparities. Training includes original research in a laboratory, presentation skills, analysis of the literature, critical thinking, and responsible conduct of research. Students also benefit from near peer mentoring, exposure to a range of career opportunities, and an introduction to health disparities and their causes as they prepare to make their career choices in science and medicine.