The Division of International Health of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai created the International Exchange Program for Minority Students. Funded since 2005, the goal is to offer minority students a challenging research training opportunity that validates students' cultural and linguistic abilities while at the same time provides close mentorship and supportive career guidance. In this iteration of the program, there will be some enhancements: 1) eligible students will be at the pre-graduate, graduate and post-graduate levels with commitment to research careers, 2) more intensive and systematic career development program, 3) large pool of research mentors at international partner institutions in low and middle income countries in Latin America, 4) US-based mentored research training sites, 5) research topics that are focused on health disparities, minority health, and related fields.
Specific aims are: 1: To offer an intensive and individualized pre-research training program that prepares students for success in their mentored research appointments. 2: To provide a robust mentored research training experience for students that is productive and beneficial for both students and mentors. 3: To integrate students' research experience into the students' career development program after they have completed their research training. Since its inception, the Mount Sinai program has undergone rigorous evaluation. As a result of this evaluation, the program implemented improvements that have made it very successful as measured by: ? Of the 140 students selected so far, 137 satisfactorily completed the program, 133 of them continue in contact with their program peers, their international mentor and/or the program director; ? 40 peer-reviewed research articles have been co-authored by students with their international mentors; ? 41 papers presented by students and mentors at international conferences; ? Students received prestigious awards, including Fulbright, Fogarty, Luce and Marshall scholarships; ? 98% of the students and 96% of the mentors express a high level of satisfaction with the program. ? 97 of them are currently in research careers. In addition to the students' successes, the program itself has achieved several milestones, including: 1) published a scholarly analysis of the program; 2) offered additional research, teaching and training opportunities for alumni; 3) received awards and recognition for the program. Future directions are: 1) a more focused research theme on health disparities, 2) improve retention of alumni through leveraging with other training programs, 3) utilize a career goal-setting approach to mentoring. These enhancements will significantly improve students' transition to independent research careers at US institutions.
Health disparities can be reduced by increasing the numbers and quality of training for minority students. This proposal requests the continuation of a program that provides mentored research training opportunities for minority students at international and domestic sites focused on health disparities research. The program has experienced great success in student retention in research careers and publication of scientific research.
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