Tennessee State University (TSU)-a public, historically black university (HBCU)-proposes to launch TSU-NERVE (Neuroscience Education and Research Vanderbilt Experience) with partnership from Vanderbilt University, a major research university less than 3 miles away that supports over 70 faculty on two, T32 grants in Neuroscience. TSU-NERVE will create quality research, didactic and professional development opportunities during the junior and senior years for TSU undergraduate STEM students with interest in Neuroscience. Research education will include three (3), paid, part-time research experiences in Vanderbilt Neuroscience labs and a paid, full-time summer research experience at Vanderbilt or one of three other T32- funded Neuroscience institutions with which a partnership has been formed (e.g., U. of Michigan). Didactics and professional development opportunities will include: free Neuroscience courses, seminars, and retreats at Vanderbilt; a 6-part Workshop series on graduate school admissions that will involve directors of Neuroscience doctoral programs from around the country; a 3-semester Neuroscience research seminar course at TSU under the direction of an appropriate Co-PD neuroscientist; and individual mentoring and advising from said Co-PD. Carefully crafted admissions and retention plans will maximize TSU-NERVE completion and success. Program eligibility requires meeting a set of high academic standards, including a 3.5 minimum GPA and B or better completion of relevant foundational STEM coursework. Qualifying applications will be reviewed by the Co-PDs and Advisory Board, and up to 5 rising juniors will be admitted annually for the 2-year program. Support services to increase retention and Program completion include: 1) a paid Vanderbilt Teaching Assistant to tutor students in rigorous Vanderbilt Neuroscience coursework, 2) paid Vanderbilt graduate student mentors who will work with each TSU-NERVE student in his/her academic year lab placements, 3) individual mentoring and advising from a Co-PD, including an evaluation of participant progress each semester, and 4) a Probation Plan to help remediate struggling students. In short, TSU-NERVE will: 1) recruit talented (primarily African American) STEM majors from TSU interested in Neuroscience, 2) provide appropriate support and scaffolding for these students as they receive quality research and didactic experiences at major research institutions, and 3) advance students from underrepresented backgrounds into doctoral programs in Neuroscience with well- crafted professional development activities-including direct contact with graduate program directors.

Public Health Relevance

The purpose of this project is to partner a public, historically Black university (Tennessee State University; TSU) with a major research institution (Vanderbilt University) to create TSU-NERVE (Neuroscience Education and Research Vanderbilt Experience) program. Such a partnership will increase the number of underrepresented students in neuroscience research careers. Including racial and ethnic minorities, those with disabilities, and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds in health-related research careers will encourage more inclusive advances in health science and medicine.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Education Projects (R25)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZNS1-SRB-M (88))
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Jones, Michelle
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Tennessee State University
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United States
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