This application is to renew funding for the Summer Program for Under-Represented Students (SPURS). Columbia University's SPURS Program provides an intense undergraduate research experience on the campus of Columbia's College of Physicians & Surgeons (P&S) for talented students from backgrounds that are under-represented in biomedical research. SPURS participants are accepted primarily from the City University of New York (CUNY) senior colleges, including Hunter, Brooklyn, Queens, and City Colleges, though in the last year we have extended our outreach and have accepted applications nationwide. This includes students from Columbia University, Barnard College, New York University, Harvard University, University of California ? Berkeley, and Amherst College. SPURS provides extensive training in basic science research, and enhances the likelihood that the students will achieve a career in science by pursuing an advanced degree (M.D. and/or Ph.D.). To expand opportunities for under- represented minority undergraduate students to participate in high quality, focused and sustained research experiences in the neurosciences, Dr. Steven Siegelbaum (P.I.), Chair of the Department of Neuroscience at P&S, and Dr. Andrew Marks, Department Chair of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics and founder of Columbia University's SPURS program have joined to expand the SPURS program. Over the last funding period, applications have soared and in the upcoming period, we propose the expansion of the program to include even more highly qualified minority student participants. Students selected for support through NIH's R25 Summer Research Experience Programs solicitation (PAR-15-184) perform hands-on research for nine summer weeks under the mentorship of NINDS-supported Columbia University neuroscientists (currently 89 Columbia University researchers receive NINDS support). In addition to specific training in neuroscience, the students have received in-depth training in research methodology including: (a) the design and analysis of experiments; (b) critical reading of scientific literature through journal clubs and discussions of ethics in science; (c) the presentation of scientific results at laboratory meetings; (d) presentation of their research at poster sessions; (e) an oral presentation of their research to an audience of scientists; and (f) career counseling. Finally, the research training will be provided in a uniquely enriching setting that includes weekly meetings with under-represented minority role models in biomedical research. The SPURS program addresses the critical need to increase the pipeline of highly qualified minority trainees into neuroscience.
The SPURS program addresses the lack of diversity in biomedical research, which is rooted in the limited number of under-represented students entering the field of science, ultimately affecting the goals and direction of research. Underserved communities suffer from a lack of representation at the decision-making level in science, in terms of policy issues and the determination of priorities for conducting research. Therefore, the SPURS program addresses the critical need to increase the pipeline of highly qualified trainees into neuroscience.
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