. As the largest public HBCU in the nation, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NC A&T) trains a large number of underrepresented minority (URM) students in STEM. Through strategic planning aligned with NC A&T?s Pre-eminence 2020, there has been tremendous transformation of the research infrastructure at the university, including the hiring of talented new faculty with research programs in the biomedical sciences. This has created an environment that is highly conducive to the mentoring of students at all levels. The current MARC U-STAR program has leveraged the existing infrastructure to enhance the training of MARC Scholars. With university support, the MARC program has 1) created cross disciplinary teams of faculty mentors in participating departments at NC A&T; 2) designed courses that offer authentic research experiences in the classroom; 3) developed academic enhancement activities; and 4) developed professional development programs for MARC Scholars. These initiatives, coupled with feedback from a program evaluator and an advisory board consisting of faculty mentors and MARC alumni, have ensured that the program has continued to evolve in a manner that is responsive to the needs of the students while incorporating new ideas to advance the goals of the program. As a result, over 70% of MARC Scholars have enrolled in PhD programs at R1 institutions with a >70% retention rate over the last 5 years. In the current MARC U-STAR renewal application, we seek to build on the successes of the past 9 years through the continued development of the MARC U-STAR Scholars program at NC A&T. The NC A&T MARC U-STAR program will provide integrated academic and research training experiences for 36 highly competitive students who are committed to obtaining doctoral degrees in the biomedical sciences. To recruit talented, highly motivated students to the program, we have developed a robust strategy that leverages existing resources to broaden the pool of students interested in biomedical research. This strategy, which builds upon recent initiatives to integrate course-based research opportunities into key 100- and 200-level courses in the Biology and Chemistry curricula, is designed both to identify students who are intrinsically motivated and to inspire them to consider careers in research. MARC Scholars will benefit from initiatives designed to promote their academic success and their development as researchers. The MARC U-STAR program has 3 objectives: 1) To help MARC scholars develop and sustain records of academic excellence through participation in targeted academic enrichment and academic support programs; 2) To promote continuous advancement in the research competency of MARC Scholars through participation in progressively enhanced research training experiences; and 3) To develop critical thinking and communication skills among MARC scholars through engagement with the primary biomedical research literature and effective communication of science discoveries to the lay and scientific communities via oral and written presentations. These activities will be implemented by a committed team of faculty mentors at NC A&T and partner R1 institutions. A Research Mentor Liaison will coordinate the mentoring activities and work with the program evaluator to ensure continuous assessment of program activities. The requested funds will ensure successful training of URM students with the knowledge, skills and dedication required to successfully complete doctoral programs in the biomedical sciences, ultimately leading to a more diverse biomedical research workforce.
A diverse workforce is important in improving the healthcare and research in the biomedical sciences. North Carolina A&T state University is the largest Historically Black College in the nation and is committed to the training of URM students. The MARC U-STAR program will provide support for mentoring a select group of outstanding URM committed to obtaining doctoral programs and pursuing research careers in the biomedical sciences.
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