The Fisk University MARC U*STAR Program for undergraduates who aspire to be biomedical investigators, established in 2013, provides an outstanding training environment for MARC Scholars that also has catalyzed transformative changes in the STEM research culture at Fisk University. The Specific Goals of our proposal affirm and extend the goals of our initial proposal: 1. Increase student awareness of research careers, in general, and biomedical discovery careers in particular, and 2) Increase students? perceptions of themselves as scientists, thus increasing application, acceptance and completion of biomedically relevant PhD- programs, in parallel with increased PhD transition from 65% to 75% within 3 years of graduation from Fisk for MARC Scholars. The program uses multiple complementary strategies: interaction with career scientists at COOL SCIENCE Cafes; MayMester courses that teach ?Multi-Disciplinary Strategies to Address Biomedical Questions? and ? Responsible Conduct of Research and Professional Skills for Gradaute Study Success? ; 3) a two-semester course in ? Scientific Inquiry: Ethics and Culture ?, 4) academic year and summer faculty-mentored research, 4) MARC-hosted workshops on graduate school planning and application, 5) increased efforts for awareness about biomedical research as a career, and 6) increased reliance on near- peer roles by more senior MARC Scholars and MARC Alumni. Each year, two sophomores are selected for participation in the MARC Scholars Program; there are 4 MARC Scholars total and each receives 24 months of stipend support. MARC Scholars conduct academic year research at either Fisk or Vanderbilt University, with whom we have a formal Consortium Agreement and benefit from a longstanding tradition of research collaboration. MARC Scholars are free to pursue their passion for biomedical research in a broad range of areas; our mentors represent a diverse set of investigators in terms of career stage and scientific expertise, but most utilize an interdiscplinary approach for addressing exciting biomedical questions. The Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Computer Science, Mathematics and Physics disciplines are all represented among Fisk mentors; Vanderbilt investigators have their primary appointments in the departments of Biochemistry, Medicine, Microbiology, and Pharmacology. To date, our outcomes exceed NIH expectations, with 100%! of our MARC Scholars have graduated from Fisk in four years, and 65% have transitioned to PhD programs within TWO years of graduating from Fisk University. An additional trainee has graduated from a Master?s Program. These post-graduate outcomes are likely an underestimate of future data, as several trainees are still within the 3-year post- undergraduate timeline for graduate transition. We also have experienced an increase in the number (and %) of undergraduate majors in biomedically relevant disciplines. The Fisk University MARC U*STAR program is poised to increase the number of discoverers and leaders in biomedical research from currently under-represented populations.
Fisk University MARC U*STAR Program Project Narrative The goal of the Fisk MARC U*STAR Program is to increase diversity among the biomedical scientists who contribute to discovery and medical research leadership in our nation. To assure continuation of cutting edge discovery, it is necessary to embrace all of the talent in our nation, including individuals from under- represented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, first generation college attendees, and those who are economically challenged. We are confident that as the diversity among biomedical researchers increases, so will the diversity of insights and strategies for preventing and treating the health challenges in our nation increases. The MARC U*STAR program focuses on undergraduates in their junior and senior years, providing mentorship and resources for faculty-mentored research at their home institutions and at research-intensive institutions nationally.
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