BRIDGE Awarded $1.4M to Study Minority Retention
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By Angela Castanieto
The pipeline for under-represented minorities in research is leaky, largely due to a shortfall in the completion of PhD programs in the biological and other sciences.
Approximately 47 percent of doctoral science students in under-represented minority groups complete their programs, according to a 2012 report released by the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce.
While efforts at the NIH and at institutions across the nation have brought these problems to light, implementing change remains a difficult matter.
At UCSF, the Biomedical Research Career Identification in Graduate Education project, or BRIDGE, is tackling the issue head on. The project was recently awarded an RO1 grant for $1.4 million by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.
Led by UCSF faculty Dr. Robyn Gershon (the principal PI), Dr. Mitch Feldman and Dr. Elizabeth Ozer, as well as project coordinator Kiersten Robertson, BRIDGE is a four-year study “based on social cognitive theory, predicting persistence in challenging academic environments,” according to Robertson.
During this study, they plan to develop and implement interventions that “encourage under-represented minority doctoral students to pursue their career aspirations in research science.”
With the evidence obtained from the implementation of such strategies at UCSF, they hope to establish programs that support diversity both within the student body and, more broadly, in the biomedical research workforce.
“Our ultimate goal, if our approach is successful, is to serve as a model program for graduate schools throughout the United States,” said Gershon. “This will ultimately strengthen the U.S. research enterprise and the public health and health care systems nationwide.”
Angela Castanieto is a fifth-year Tetrad student.