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Undergraduate Students

2022 Training Grants

Mentoring Young Minds to Increase Diversity in Biomedical Research

A diverse educational and scientific community is a vital component for developing a robust work force that can address the technological and social challenges of the U.S. in a new global economy. However, the access of students from disadvantaged social and economic backgrounds to graduate education (Ph.D. level) is still low in comparison with individuals from more privileged socioeconomic groups. This disparity is amplified during academic life, resulting in a lack of faculty diversity at most U.S. universities. To address this problem, the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) program was established in 2008 at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), which focuses on motivating, mentoring, and facilitating the transition of students from disadvantaged economic and social backgrounds and students with disabilities from college to graduate school. The UCSD-IMSD program is composed of two consecutive phases directed at mentoring students from their initial college education to enrolling into a Ph.D. program in biomedical sciences. Phase 1 is directed at introducing freshmen students with no or limited prior research experience to scientific work via fundamental experimental instruction within the Basic Methodology Training Laboratory (BMTL). In this setting, students learn the essential research principles and skills (laboratory safety, basic techniques, data collection, and analysis) that will prepare them to participate in organized research projects. During Phase 2, students participate in hands-on, bench research projects under the mentorship of established, well-funded investigators, where they develop an appetite for science. Students are trained in several aspects of science, including experimental design, execution, data analysis and presentations, increasing their competitiveness as graduate school candidates. In addition, students are motivated to enroll into Ph.D. programs and are assisted during the process.

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A program designed for motivated undergraduate students who are interested in learning about a career as a Physician-Scientist (M.D./Ph.D.). This program is closely linked to the MST (Medical Scientist Training) Program.

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Multidisciplinary Educational Approach to Reducing Cancer Disparities

Increasing the diversity of cancer researchers and clinicians is a key strategy for finding innovative cancer control solutions and reducing cancer disparities. This Youth Enjoy Science Research Education (YES) Program will increase the diversity of University of California San Diego (UCSD) graduates who are pursuing graduate/professional training in the sciences. This YES Program is grounded on the Transformative Learning Theory and UCSD's 16 years of experience conducting UCSD's successful CURE Program. This YES Program will increase the number of women and underrepresented students from diverse scientific disciplines who are prepared for graduate school admission, with a focus on addressing cancer and cancer disparities. Specifically, YES students participate in classroom and laboratory learning activities that raise their understanding of cancer and the nation's and the world's cancer disparities. Thus, cancer disparities and how they are identified and resolved become the common theme that interconnects this YES Program's various learning activities. Students approach the issues related to cancer disparities, from the perspective of their individual laboratory training, classes and workshops, their own cultural backgrounds, community outreach events they deploy, and their chosen academic and professional pathways. San Diego's three NCI-designated cancer centers (UCSD, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute) invite the YES students to work and learn in the basic, behavioral, clinical and translational cancer research labs of their top cancer researchers. In their labs and classrooms, the YES students gain a solid understanding of cancer and the many bio-behavioral issues related to the development and exacerbation of cancer disparities and the possible resolutions. With this information and their literature review, students learn how to work on multidisciplinary teams as they develop programs to help reduce their community's cancer morbidity and mortality rates. Through these activities, students learn that, throughout their lives, they can play a role in reducing cancer disparities. To help YES students' reach their full academic, personal, and professional potential, they are also offered supplementary learning experiences, e.g., public speaking, goal setting and time management, writing, conducting literature search and synthesis skills, and experiences presenting and discussing their research work with professional and lay audiences. Students also prepare and submit abstracts to present their research findings at research symposia and national scientific meetings. Mentoring of the YES Program students, continues throughout their time at UCSD and on to graduate school. Thus, the premise of this YES program is that this learning opportunity will give the students hands-on research experiences and skills that will help them to secure admission to graduate level STEM programs and careers in cancer control research, always with a focus on reducing cancer disparities.

Multidisciplinary Educational Approach to Reducing Cancer Disparities

Creating Scientists to Address Cancer Disparities

A program to prepare community college students who are matriculating to UC San Diego or SDSU for careers in cancer disparities research: basic, behavioral, or other science major.
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