The goals of the MARC U-STAR program at Morehouse College are to (1) increase the number of Morehouse College STEM majors who enter PhD or MD-PhD programs within three years of attaining their bachelor's degree, (2) enhance the curriculum in the Division of Science and Mathematics, and (3) create a Research Community at Morehouse College. We believe that the combination of research training, mentoring, academic enhancement and professional development will result in Leaders in Science. The MARC U-STAR Leaders in Science Program emphasizes the incorporation of quantitative sciences and biology into an interdisciplinary course of study, the integration of service-learning into instruction, and the implementation of a MARC Scholars Program that provides academic year and summer research training and mentoring, which prepare students for graduate study in the biomedical sciences. This program is designed to provide advanced and specialized training for a small cohort of exceptional STEM students at Morehouse College, thereby improving the readiness of its scholars to successfully complete the PhD, begin research careers in the biomedical sciences, and, ultimately, become leaders in science. Since its inception in 2011, our program has appointed 26 trainees, 18 have graduated, 5 are rising seniors and will continue their matriculation as MARC scholars, and 3 are no longer in the MARC program but are completing their degree requirements and are projected to graduate in May 2017. Of the 14 trainees who completed the 2-year training program and graduated: 7 are in PhD programs, 3 are in MSTPs, 2 are employed in a STEM-related position, 1 is in a master's to PhD bridge program and 1 is in medical school. Recent reports have identified African-American males as being the most underrepresented ethnic group in STEM careers. The Morehouse College MARC U-STAR Leaders in Science Program is at the vanguard of a movement to combat this disparity ? 100% of our graduates are pursuing careers in the biomedical and related science fields. Due to this overwhelming success, the program proposes to continue training undergraduate STEM majors at Morehouse College by building on its strengths and adding new initiatives. For the upcoming project period, the MARC U-STAR Leaders in Science program will focus on: Mentoring, Academic enhancement, Research training, and Community building. The proposed activities are designed not only to meet the goal of increasing the number of students from underrepresented groups seeking PhDs in biomedical fields, but also to enhance the students' communication skills, enhance the curriculum in the Division of Science and Mathematics, and serve as the catalyst for the development of a research community at Morehouse College. These programmatic activities are designed to meet the specific aims of the MARC U-STAR Leaders in Science program, which are to SA-1) Increase exposure to and competency for engaging in biomedical research; SA-2) Increase academic performance within the STEM disciplines; SA-3) Increase exposure and intent to pursue graduate study and research careers; SA-4) Replicate the graduate school environment; SA-5) Cultivate ethical leadership in scientific research. The proposed program will be implemented over a 5-year period and train 10 students/year, 5 juniors and 5 seniors. At the end of the project period the expectations are that the percentage of Morehouse STEM majors entering graduate school will have increased by 25%, the curriculum in the Division of Science and Mathematics will be more research-based and facilitate the development of critical thinking and problem solving skills among STEM majors, and that the maintenance of the Morehouse College Research Community will be a key component of the College's Strategic Plan.
The Public Health Relevance of the Morehouse College MARC U-STAR Program is related to its significant impact on the preparation of students to successfully complete the undergraduate degree and pursue a PhD in the biomedical sciences at competitive graduate programs. The MARC program will collaborate with the Morehouse College Public Health Sciences Institute and the MBRS-RISE Program to develop and implement annual service-learning projects. This will result in trainees who are more aware of the public health needs of the nation.