Training a diverse neuroscience workforce to address health disparities is critical when considering the cost and burden on society of unequal care and treatment among racial and ethnic groups. Numerous reports link socioeconomic and ethnic disparities to the frequency, care, and severity of brain disorders and disabilities including stroke, neurodegenerative disease, epilepsy, addiction, traumatic brain injury, and psychological disorders. The Borough of Brooklyn has a population of over 2.6 million, one of the most diverse urban communities in the nation. Brooklyn College (BC) of City University of New York (CUNY), State University of New York Downstate Medical Center (Downstate), and Medgar Evers College (MEC) of CUNY are located within a few miles of each other in a part of Brooklyn that is overwhelmingly populated by under-represented groups: 50% of the population is comprised of Black residents primarily from West Indian and Afro-Caribbean backgrounds, and 12% is Hispanic, also of Caribbean origins. Our institutions will partner to develop a neuroscience-focused educational and research agenda ranging from basic neural processes to cognitive and behavioral neuroscience, including the introduction of Fellows to the socioeconomics of health disparities and public health issues related to neurological health and disease in minority communities. Our program, BP- ENDURE: Brooklyn Neural NETS (Neuroscience Education and Training for Scientists) or B-NETS, is intended to prepare well-qualified underrepresented (UR) juniors and seniors who are interested in careers in the neurosciences requiring PhD or MD/PhD degrees. Such individuals will both increase the diversity of researchers in neuroscience and contribute research findings that can help to address chronic neurological conditions that occur more frequently in minority and low-income populations, including the catchment area of the participating institutions where our students live and study. Working as a tightly knit consortium and exploiting prior successful cross-institution collaborations, B-NETS will have the experience, scientific expertise, assessed institutional need, and motivation to develop a highly effective BP-ENDURE program for upper division undergraduate students from UR backgrounds. The proposed B-NETS program will meet the goal of developing neuroscience research education programs by creating a full neuroscience major at BC and an expanded neuroscience curriculum at MEC. The senior administration of all three B-NETS partner institutions has prioritized STEM diversity programs and increasing faculty diversity and fully supports the B- NETS program. Many of our UR undergraduates, including some in programs like MARC and RISE, express the goal of becoming college faculty and serving as research mentors for UR undergraduates like themselves ? a vital pipeline to increase the size of the pool of UR faculty. Innovative aspects of the B-NETS program include the blending of basic neuroscience, behavioral neuroscience, community-engaged research and an outstanding depth in neuroscience research to develop a new cohort of diverse neuroscience researchers.
The goal of the BP-ENDURE: Brooklyn Neural NETS (Neuroscience Education and Training for Scientists), or B-NETS, is to increase the diversity in neuroscience research by developing more under-represented doctoral students and researchers. To accomplish this, a consortium of three Brooklyn public institutions, Brooklyn College and Medgar Evers of City University of New York, and Downstate Medical Center of State University of New York, will prepare undergraduates from groups under-represented in the biomedical sciences to enter PhD programs by providing excellent academic instruction, close and effective mentoring, and rich opportunities to participate in cutting-edge research in all areas of the neurosciences. A defining feature of the B-NETS program will be fostering an understanding for the B-NETS Fellows of how basic and applied neuroscience research findings can address chronic neurological health disparities that occur more frequently in minority and low income populations, including the catchment area of the participating institutions in Central Brooklyn where our students both live and study.