July 31, 2009
Blueprint Undergraduate Neuroscience Research Training Initiative: Increasing Diversity
Mark Chavez, Ph.D.
Associate Director for Research Training & Career Development
Division of Adult Translational Research and Treatment Development
The goal of this initiative is to support the development of collaborative undergraduate research education/training programs with the purpose of increasing the pool of students who are well-prepared and motivated to enter Ph.D. programs in the neurosciences. This initiative will target undergraduate students who are from diverse backgrounds (i.e., students from backgrounds historically underrepresented in the biomedical sciences). This initiative will be supported through the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research, consisting of 16 NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices that collectively support neuroscience research.
In 2008, the National Advisory Mental Health Council Workgroup on Research Training recommended that NIMH, in cooperation with other relevant NIH institutes, develop a trans-NIH undergraduate neuroscience research education/training initiative focusing on students from diverse backgrounds. The proposed initiative will establish integrated research training partnerships between neuroscience intensive institutions and up to two less research intensive institutions that have a substantial enrollment of students from diverse backgrounds. The programs would provide part-time, hands-on research training experiences during the academic year and full-time research experiences during the summer in existing NIH T32 predoctoral neuroscience programs. Research experiences could be either within or outside of the partnering institutions, which would require the establishment of formal alliances by the time of grant submission. These alliances are intended to facilitate the transition of students from the undergraduate to the graduate level and to serve as an ideal funnel to NIH T32 neuroscience programs. In addition, the initiative will support integrated curriculum and academic enhancement activities across the partnering institutions to enhance trainees’ preparation to enter Ph.D. programs.