The BUILD Promoting Opportunities for Diversity in Education and Research (PODER) program at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) employs Critical Race Theory (CRT) as a transformative institutional approach to better understand and interrupt the processes that push scientists of color out of biomedical majors and research careers. All of the initiatives at the institution, and faculty and student level efforts, were focused on preparing students to emerge as successful biomedical scientists. In the first phase, BUILD PODER (i.e., BP-I) developed a series of experiences and materials steeped in CRT for undergraduate biomedical research training. In BP-II, we aim to continue and sustain our scalable and transformative undergraduate biomedical research training program to diversify the biomedical workforce. As in BP-I, we aim to support scholars who link research to social justice and community engagement, providing greater meaning and reason to persevere in the face of formidable barriers in the achievement of educational and career goals. We propose four aims: (1) To invite new underrepresented scholars into and retain them in the biomedical sciences. Our CRT-based approach is intended to appeal to students interested in social justice, and we expect to retain them with meaningful and contextual science that addresses problems in their communities. (2) To sustain activities and materials from BP I and II through a series of institutional, financial, curricular, and human capital initiatives based in needs assessments and strategic planning. (3) To disseminate best practices through traditional methods and a new CSU BUILD Alliance designed to conduct evidence-based testing on modularized training to disseminate to the campus, the California State University system, and nationwide. And finally, (4) to deepen the impact of BUILD PODER by cultivating partnerships with research, pipeline, community, and clinical partners, solidifying and sustaining research relationships beyond BUILD funding. The continuation of BUILD PODER (BP) will provide a complete, 10-year experiment in student and faculty training, infrastructure development, local and broader dissemination, and sustainability, utilizing a promising CRT framework to retain underrepresented students in the biomedical sciences.

Public Health Relevance

BUILD PODER II builds on a highly successful program of undergraduate biomedical research training that has generated nearly 200 student researchers, a sustaining Health Equity Research and Education (HERE) Center with four cluster hires, and a variety of training modules for dissemination. In Phase II, BUILD PODER will institutionalize Phase I initiatives through enhanced research training, community-university and research partnerships, and forming an alliance with other California State University campuses to build a best-practices repository. Longer-term implications include diversifying the biomedical research workforce and broadening research questions, methods, and interpretations to reduce health disparities.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Linked Education Project (RL5)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZGM1)
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Salazar, Desiree Lynn
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California State University Northridge
United States
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Saetermoe, Carrie L; Chavira, Gabriela; Khachikian, Crist S et al. (2017) Critical race theory as a bridge in science training: the California State University, Northridge BUILD PODER program. BMC Proc 11:21