The UNC-CH Summer Research Training in Aging for Medical Students (UNC-CH MSTAR) program proposes to serve as a national resource for preparing medical and osteopathic students early in their careers to design, conduct, and analyze independent research in the broad field of aging. The trainees are paired with a funded mentor who will serve as an academic role model. This program has been funded since 2010, under the direction of Jan Busby-Whitehead, MD, Chief, Division of Geriatric Medicine and Director of the Center for Aging and Health (CAH). We currently have 8 short term trainee positions per year. All positions have been filled with highly qualified trainees from USA medical and osteopathic schools. UNC-CH requested 40 positions over a five-year period (8 per year); however, due to a late funding notice, Grant Years 2 and 4 were filled with 12 trainees in order to meet our proposed quota of 40 trainees. Thirty-two pre-doctoral trainees from 2011-2013 have successfully completed the Program. Eight trainees are currently enrolled for 2014, fulfilling our commitment through 2014. Of the thirty-two trainees who successfully completed the Program, five are underrepresented minority (URM) medical students. In this current year of 2014, two trainees out of eight are URM. Twenty-nine of the 32 student/mentor teams have published abstracts and presented their UNC-CH MSTAR projects at the American Geriatrics Society annual meeting. Two of the students were invited to give oral presentations at AGS, and seven other students were selected to display their posters in the Presidential Poster Section. In addition, 13 students have published a total of 12 articles in peer reviewed journals. Seventeen UNC-CH MSTAR students have received academic recognition with honors and awards for their aging research projects. These numbers speak to the success of the ongoing UNC-CH MSTAR program. We are requesting from NIA to continue with 12 pre-doctoral trainee slots, and UNC-CH has made an institutional commitment to fund 2 of these pre-doctoral trainee slots. Training is centered in the CAH in collaboration with the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health, Social Work, and Arts and Sciences. Trainees attend required structured didactic sessions and seminars. They have performance reviews during their fourth week of training and at the end of their summer experience. Guidance is provided by the trainee's research mentor and the UNC-CH MSTAR Leadership Team. Trainees are immersed in relevant areas of research including: genetic, biological, clinical, behavioral, social, and economic research related to the aging process, diseases and conditions associated with aging, and other problems and needs specific to older Americans. The trainees are exposed to issues regarding the scope and impact of areas of research needed in the field of aging, reviews of the relevant literature, development of research initiatives, data analysis, preparation of manuscripts and abstracts, and research presentations. We are confident that our Program is providing a strong foundation for our trainees to build towards academic careers that will advance aging research.
The primary purpose of the training program based in the University of North Carolina Center for Aging and Health is to nurture the development of future medical (homeopathic and osteopathic) leaders in research related to aging. The nation's biggest public health challenge for the coming decades is how to best care for our rapidly growing population of persons aged 65 and older - particularly those who are living with multiple chronic conditions and disabilities. This training grant is designed to increase the number of physicians who are trained to conduct important research related to aging to help solve critical problems around the care of older persons.
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