The overall goal of the NINDS-proposed UC San Diego Leading the Advancement of Underrepresented Neuroscientists for Change (LAUNCH) program is to effectively mentor and train individuals underrepresented in neurosciences in critical career development skills and research to enhance the development of competitive neuroscience research programs and success in obtaining independent extramural research funding in a visiting scholars program. LAUNCH will utilize asset models and evidence-based strategies to enhance effective mentoring, career skill development, and research training. LAUNCH is directed by five PIs with a history of mentoring and training junior faculty and postdoctoral fellows and success in creating and implementing career development and mentoring programs specifically for underrepresented minority (URM) trainees and women. All PIs have successfully led extramurally funded training programs; four of the five PIs are actively engaged in NIH-sponsored biomedical research, 3 PIs are women, and two PIs are from URM backgrounds. The overall goal of the NINDS-proposed UC San Diego Leading the Advancement of Underrepresented Neuroscientists for Change (LAUNCH) program is to effectively mentor and train underrepresented early career neuroscientists in critical career development and research skills to enhance the development of research programs and success and in obtaining independent extramural research funding. The specific objectives of the UCSD LAUNCH program are to increase the representation of scientists from backgrounds underrepresented in neurosciences in obtaining effective mentorship, critical career development skills, research training and grant funding.
Three specific aims are proposed.
Aim 1 is to recruit underrepresented junior faculty and transitioning postdoctoral fellows who have neuroscience scientific expertise aligned with those of our research mentors in the areas of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, cellular, developmental and molecular neurosciences and computational and systems neurosciences, particular strengths of UC San Diego.
Aim 2 is to use asset models and evidence-based strategies to enhance career skill development and effective mentorship of participants using a Faculty Research and Career Advancement Plan to identify short- and long-term career and research goals, engage in effective mentorship with a 3-membered mentoring team, and extend knowledge and skills in specific career development areas.
Aim 3 is to promote research training and research self-efficacy of participants by extending research knowledge, skills and strategies through direct training with a UCSD faculty research mentor and immersion in activities that will enhance research progress, collaborations and networking, grant writing skills, and as well as publication strategies that will accelerate successful research program development and submission of an NIH or equivalent grant. LAUNCH includes PIs with extensive experience in program and career development and neuroscience research, a strong cohort of UC San Diego faculty neuroscience researchers and career mentors from underrepresented backgrounds.
Despite substantial efforts aimed at increasing faculty diversity, the proportion of faculty at academic institutions from underrepresented groups is well below their proportional representation in the U.S. population. The San Diego Leading the Advancement of Underrepresented Neuroscientists for Change (LAUNCH) program aims to enhance the diversity of the biomedical workforce in neuroscience. Junior faculty and postdoctoral fellow participants in LAUNCH will obtain strong mentorship, career skills, and excellent guidance in research training and grantsmanship, that will improve their success in developing neuroscience research programs and in obtaining research funding.