The University of Missouri-Columbia (MU) proposes to develop a new T32 training program that will train predoctoral graduate students from groups that are underrepresented in biomedical research to become successful scientists pursuing careers in the biomedical workforce. Underrepresented (UR) groups include students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds (underrepresented minorities or URM) as well as students with disabilities. The mission of our training program is to facilitate the transformation of our trainees into independent scientists who are active producers of new biomedical knowledge and are adept at solving the complex problems of disease and illnesses that adversely affect human health. To accomplish this mission, we have established the following six objectives: Objective #1: To increase the participation of UR students in the participating biomedical predoctoral programs from the current level of 16% to 20%, such that our programs reflect the diversity of the state of Missouri?s population. Objective #2: To improve the PhD completion rate of UR students in the participating biomedical predoctoral programs from the current level of 84% to 90%, such that UR students complete their PhD at the same rate as students from well-represented backgrounds. Objective #3: To equip our trainees with the skills to communicate their science, such that 30% of UR trainees in the participating programs are awarded external fellowships during their predoctoral training. Objective #4: To increase the number of publications by our trainees, such that our UR PhD graduates will publish, on average, 2 first-author papers while contributing to, on average, 2 additional publications over the course of their doctoral training. Objective #5: To strengthen the inclusive and supportive nature of our training environment, as well as improve the mentoring skills of our faculty. Objective #6: To develop robust levels of science self-efficacy, science identity, perceived supports, and satisfaction with mentoring relationships among UR trainees, all of which are predictors of academic satisfaction and persistence outcomes among students from UR backgrounds. The IMSD T32 program will implement a wide-ranging set of programmatic activities to achieve the stated Objectives. The programmatic activities, based on best practices for retention of students from UR backgrounds, as described in the literature, will develop the technical, operational and professional skills that will enable our trainees to flourish in their independent scientific careers.
We will develop a predoctoral training program that will provide opportunities for research training leading to a PhD degree to predoctoral graduate students from groups that are underrepresented in the biomedical workforce. Our program will develop these students into independent scientists who are active producers of new biomedical knowledge and are adept at solving the complex problems of disease and illnesses that adversely affect human health. As these students will pursue careers in biomedical research, our program will enhance the diversity of the biomedical research workforce.