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Minority Undergraduate Programs Intended to Increase Participation in Biomedical Careers

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Abstract

This article reviews a selection of undergraduate programs intended to increase successful minority participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics majors, potentially leading to biomedical careers. The object is to examine their structure, consider how well they address the issues of the target population, and assess the extent to which they have met/meet their goals. As a means of conducting this review, the first step is to examine the concepts used as the building blocks for program design. These concepts are found in a shared, yet often undefined, vocabulary used in most undergraduate programs for minority students. The hypothesis is that a shared vocabulary obscures a broad range of meaning and interpretation that has serious ramifications affecting student success. How these building blocks are understood and implemented strongly reflects the institution where the program is housed. The discussion further considers the nature of a number of programs created by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health specifically for underrepresented minority students and examines one program in detail, the University of California Berkeley's National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates Program in Molecular, Cell, and Evolutionary Biology. The characteristics of federally organized programs and the Research Experience for Undergraduates are contrasted with 2 very successful student-centered local programs based on a different conceptual model. Mt Sinai J Med 79:769–781, 2012. © 2012 Mount Sinai School of Medicine

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