A diverse biomedical science research workforce is vital to the nation in remaining globally competitive in scientific discovery and innovation. One of the leaky pipelines in the pathway to research science careers is the matriculation of students at community college (CC) institutions and subsequently to baccalaureate programs at four-year institutions. Thus, this proposal aims to develop a program, which will support this pipeline between the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and our partnering CCs, Texas Southmost College (TSC) and South Texas College (STC). These three institutions are in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) of South Texas, which bears the disproportionate burden of health disparities such as obesity, diabetes and mental health issues which are exacerbated by poverty and illiteracy and are underserved in healthcare. These academic institutions are located in Cameron and Hidalgo County, which is characterized by a large Hispanic population (89.8 and 92.3%, respectively) and a high poverty rate (27.7 and 29.5%, respectively of the population living below the federal poverty line). Although UTRGV has memorandum of understanding with both TSC and STC to facilitate seamless transfer from the community colleges to, transfer rates to a BS degree program and specifically to the BS in Biomedical Sciences (BMED) at UTRGV are very low or vary between years. The impediments in transfer rates may be associated with a lack of awareness of the BMED degree program and career opportunities in biomedical sciences, specific academic preparation and adequate advising and support services for transfer and success in a 4-year college. Currently, we do not have a formal program that supports successful transfer from TSC or STC to UTRGV and successful completion of a BMED degree. In an effort to fulfill the long-term goal of the Bridges to Baccalaureate program to increase diversity in the biomedical research workforce, UTRGV, TSC and STC are committed to increase the number of underrepresented students who: 1) successfully complete their Associate degrees and transfer to the UTRGV BMED program, 2) complete the BMED program and 3) apply to graduate school and/or enter the biomedical science research workforce. Through self- assessment of areas that need to be improved and strengthened to achieve this goal, the following specific aims have been proposed: 1) Establish Partnership with community colleges to Recruit Potential Students who are Interested in Biomedical Sciences, 2) Develop Advanced Courses for Research Skills Development, 3) Provide Mentored-Research Experience Supplemented with Activities to Develop Research Competencies and 4) Develop Methods to Improve Biomedical Science Education.
A diverse biomedical science research workforce is vital to the nation in remaining globally competitive in scientific discovery and innovation. Through a partnership between three Hispanic-serving institutions, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Texas Southmost College (TSC) and South Texas College (STC), this project will implement innovative, well- integrated strategies encompassing outreach and recruitment with career and program advising, courses for advanced research skill development, mentored-research experiences complement with other opportunities to develop research efficacy and skills and curriculum/methods development with academic enrichment which includes multi-level mentoring and academic and professional workshops. These program components/activities have been proposed to address the areas which have been identified through self-assessment that need to be improved and strengthened to enable underrepresented students to make a seamless transition from the participating community colleges to the bachelor's degree-granting institution and successfully complete the baccalaureate degree program in biomedical sciences.