The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) requests NIH/NIGMS support to continue its successful MARC U*STAR Research Preparedness Program. The overall goal of the program is to develop exceptional underrepresented minority undergraduate researchers who successfully matriculate into highly selective doctoral training programs and pursue research careers in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. In 30 years since the UTSA MARC program inception, refinements have increased doctoral trainee matriculation rates to ~50% (2006-present). This rate is practically double what it was just ten years ago. Quality is very high as 23 former trainees are currently in prestigious doctoral programs (87% at T32 institutions). With excellent, well-established MARC training activities and strong relationships with several exceptional doctoral training programs, the UTSA MARC program is now in an opportune position to expand its impact to a much greater number of UTSA's undergraduate students, 52% of whom come from populations underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. The proposed new MARC U*STAR program will continue to provide outstanding academic and research training to MARC trainees, but will also engage non-MARC undergraduates in the College of Science (COS), College of Engineering (COE), and College of Liberal and Fine Arts (COLFA), as well as High School students visiting the UTSA campus to expand the pool of students interested in research careers. The central hypothesis is that by initiating, refining and institutionalizing successful MARC U*STAR interventions, and by providing curricular and course enhancements, information, and innovative entry-level research training opportunities for non-MARC students, program impact will be broadened and doctoral program matriculation rates of URM students will increase at UTSA. Program goals will be accomplished through achieving three specific aims: 1) enhance existing and implement new developmental activities for MARC U*STAR trainees; 2) promote and develop entry-level research education and research training experiences at UTSA; and 3) revise or develop academic-related activities, curriculum and coursework for UTSA undergraduates, to enhance their quantitative skills and preparation for doctoral education. An array of effective and innovative activities will be implemented to achieve the specific aims, each with measurable objectives that will be used to assess progress and effectiveness. The proposed training plan is innovative because it employs a variety of approaches beyond research mentoring to develop and promote undergraduate biomedical and behavioral research, and pursuit of doctoral education, at UTSA. Overall, the UTSA MARC U*STAR program is dedicated to accomplishing the long-term goal of increasing the number of URM students who enter and complete doctoral education, and launch rewarding careers in the biomedical and behavioral sciences.
Breakthroughs in scientific research always precede improvements in medical treatment and public health. Providing funding to recruit and train a diverse work force of future scientists will develop a robust scientific community poised to address the nation health concerns, including those who disproportionately affect minority populations.
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