The TSU-MARC program began in 1980 and had a change of program director beginning with the most recent cycle of the program (2012-2013 academic year). 7 MARC alumni have received Ph.D.s from 2012-2015. All Ph.D.s received by TSU alumni in biomedical sciences during this period were from MARC alumni, emphasizing the importance of the TSU MARC program in attainment of Ph.D.s by URM at TSU. Historically, the TSU MARC program has produced a significant number of minority biomedical researchers. 7 of the 15 MARC graduates from the most recent cycle (2013-2015) have enrolled in Ph.D. pograms (40%). This is above the the rate of Ph.D. program enrollment, 34%, from the previous 12 years of the grant, but it is still below the desired level of Ph.D. program enrollment. Funding for 10 MARC trainees to particpate in the program is requested. The following specifc goals of the current application address the need of the TSU MARC program to increase enrollment in Ph.D. programs by MARC graduates and their persistence to completion of the Ph.D. once enrolled. A number of new strategies and activities have been proposed to achieve the folowing goals: 1. Increase the number of URM students who apply to Ph.D. graduate programs in the biomedical sciences. In the current cycle 60% of MARC graduates have applied to Ph.D. programs. The objective is to have 80% of our graduates applying to Ph.D. programs upon graduation, a 33% increase. 2. Increase the acceptance rate of students applying to Ph.D. programs. The specific objective is to increase the success rate of our students applying to Ph.D. programs from the current 55% to 80%.3. Increase the persistence of TSU MARC graduates entering Ph.D. programs to successful completion of their degrees. In the last 15 years of the TSU MARC program, 27 MARC graduates have entered Ph.D. programs but only 21 have persisted in their programs. The objective is to drop this attrition level of 22% to 15% during the next cycle of the grant, a 32% improvement. 4. Increase critical thinking skills of TSU-MARC graduates to prepare them for the level of analytical rigor needed for graduate program admission and completion. The measurable objective is have an increase in verbal and quatitative GRE scores from the current average of 151 to 153, which would put the verbal score at the 59th percentile and the quantitative at the 52nd percentile. This would be an 18% increase in the verbal percentile and a 16% increase in the quantitative percentile. 5. Improve TSU MARC student presentation effectiveness and publication record. Specifically to increase the number of trainee scientific presentations at discipline-related professional meetings from 4 per year to 6 per year and publications from 10 per five year period to 12 per five year period.
The proposed MARC U-STAR grant would increase the pool of under-represented minority (URM) research scientists, this will be achieved by offering enhanced curricula and rigorous undergraduate research experiences to maximize the competitiveness of students in entering and completing Ph.D. programs in biomedical research. The diversity of the students that emerge from the program will provide a more nuanced and sensitive approach to the host of public health challenges that occur among the increasingly diverse population.
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