A postbaccalaureate research experience program (PREP) will be developed at Michigan State University (MSU) that builds on existing relationships developed between MSU and minority serving institutions (MSIs) both on the US mainland and in Puerto Rico. The goal of this PREP is to increase the number of under-represented minority, disabled or disadvantaged (URMDD) Ph.D.s trained in the biomedical/behavioral sciences by facilitating entry of students into high quality and highly competitive mainland Ph.D. or dual degree (M.D./Ph.D., D.O./Ph.D., D.V.M./Ph.D) programs and enhancing their likeliness of success in those programs. The program is based on five years of successful pilot data demonstrating our ability to identify qualified URMDD students and effectively move them into competitive Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D. programs. Annual support is sought for 7 “post-bac” students who will be placed in productive research laboratories which are actively funded by federal grants. Institutional support will provide an additional position annually. A broad recruiting strategy will be employed with expanded recruiting both in Puerto Rico, and on the US mainland. Several MSIs have agreed to partner with the proposed PREP, providing a cadre of well qualified URMDD students from a range of racial and ethnic backgrounds, as well as financially disadvantaged students. An individual development program will be created for each PREP student which will aim to identify courses and a research mentor best suited for each student. Students will undertake a individualized hypothesis-directed research project. Each PREP student will also be assigned a grad student mentor who will be a Ph.D. student in the same, or closely aligned area of scientific interest. In most cases, the mentor will themselves be of a URMDD class. PREP student progress in both course work and research will be closely monitored. In addition, all students will take a semester-long course (2 credits) stressing translational and interdisciplinary approaches to understanding the etiology of human disease, which will entail significant practice in writing, as well as an integral journal club. All students will take a biostatistics course during the summer, and will prepare a one-aim, 10 pp paper simulating a preliminary exam format. Planned additional enrichment activities include help with writing personal statements for graduate applications; mock interviews; assistance in completing graduate applications; GRE preparation; and travel to scientific meetings. Improvement of communication skills will involve both informal and more formalized settings (research presentations, participation in class, journal club
participation and paper writing). Through these combined activities, the student will become more confident in the
application process, present a more competitive application and make valuable contacts (network) with researchers at MSU and elsewhere. The net result should be an increased the number of URMDD students accepted into highly competitive Ph.D. programs in the biomedical/behavioral sciences, and a more effective progression of these students to completion of their degree.