Despite great advances in the biomedical and behavioral sciences, and major advances in clinical care, major
health challenges remain that negatively impact public health. Addressing these challenges requires that the
biomedical field draw from the broadest talent pool available. Yet, analysis of the trends in the biomedical
sciences workforce and trainee pool consistently demonstrate that specific racial and ethnic groups remain
underrepresented in this arena relative to their representation within the population of the United States.
Therefore, programs that address the discrepancy in participation rates between different racial, ethnic, gender
and/or socioeconomic groups, and promote the engagement of the maximum number of talented individuals
In this application, we propose the implementation of a research training program, under the umbrella of the
Initiative to Maximize Student Development (IMSD), to alleviate this discrepancy at our institution, the
University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Massachusetts. The mission of the proposed IMSD
is to facilitate the excellence of a cadre of talented young scientists from traditionally underrepresented
backgrounds. The program will achieve its mission through the development and deployment of: a series of
academic and research activities that increase the excellence of participating students as biomedical scientists;
professional development activities that prepare participants for success in a range of biomedical sciences-
related careers; and the implementation of training workshops that shift trainee self-perception and mentor
training capacity. These activities are expected to produce rigorously trained, successful young PhD scientists
who will persist in biomedical sciences-related careers. The program will measure the success of its activities
through the following metrics:
1) Increased student retention and completion rates. We expect to observe >90% retention through
the successful completion of the Qualifying Examination at the end of year 2, and >85% successful
completion of the PhD. These retention and completion rates will match or exceed the rates for the
broader population of PhD trainees in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) at UMMS.
2) Decreased time to degree completion. The current average time to completion for PhD trainees in
the GSBS is 6.4 years. We expect the time to degree completion for IMSD trainees to be shorter than
for the average GSBS student. During the initial reporting period, we anticipate that the average time to
degree will be 6.2 years, with the goal of achieving an average time to completion of < 6 years.
3) Increased student publications. We expect that IMSD participants will, on average, publish 4 papers
during graduate study, including 2 as first author. These metrics are in line with the output of the
broader GSBS population.
4) Successful attainment of individual fellowships. We anticipate that 50% of IMSD program
participants will successfully compete for individual fellowships from the NIH or private funding
5) Attainment of desired post-graduate opportunities. We expect that IMSD participants will be top
candidates in their chosen career paths. We further expect that 100% of IMSD participants will
transition from PhD training to their preferred career path.
6) Increased sense of belonging at UMMS and self-identity as scientists. Through activities that
increase the capacity of research mentors and other faculty to effectively mentor a diverse student
population, as well as activities that increase students’ self-identity as scientists, IMSD trainees will
develop increased sense of belonging at UMMS and envision themselves as important contributors to
the scientific enterprise at UMMS and in their future careers.
The successful implementation of the program will increase the number of students from underrepresented
backgrounds earning PhDs at UMMS, enhance the persistence of these newly minted PhDs in biomedical
careers, and enhance the research excellence at UMMS by positively shifting the research training