LSU Health to Use $1.4M Grant to Diversify Research Workforce

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NEW ORLEANS – The National Institutes of Health has renewed a five-year biomedical sciences research pipeline grant to LSU Health New Orleans. With the $1.4 million Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) grant awarded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, LSU Health New Orleans plans to enhance the diversity of the biomedical sciences research workforce.

During a one-year research education program, LSU Health New Orleans faculty will prepare individuals from backgrounds underrepresented in the biomedical sciences who have recently completed their baccalaureate science degrees for the rigors and challenges of a biomedical doctoral degree program. PREP aims to increase their competitiveness, acceptance, retention and completion of PhD degree programs.

LSU Health New Orleans PREP will accept 25 recent eligible baccalaureate science graduates over five years. PREP will provide intensive research experiences with committed and funded faculty mentors, essential skills development training, concentrated education in scientific critical thinking, analysis of results using statistics, and writing, inventive and personalized test-taking skills to improve GRE scores and success in graduate courses, experience in oral and poster scientific presentations, training in responsible and ethical conduct in research, rigor, and reproducibility, and writing a personal statement, selecting, applying, and interviewing for graduate schools.

PREP scholars will participate in weekly skills and career development workshops hosted by PREP faculty, internal and external scientists; join graduate students in skills development programs, courses, and seminars; present their research at the annual PREP symposium and local and national scientific conferences; mentor summer research fellows; assist in community science education programs; and participate in community outreach.

In the U.S. during 2018-2019, 19% of STEM bachelor’s degrees were conferred to students from groups underrepresented in the sciences; 10% earned master’s degrees, and only 7% earned a PhD degree. In Louisiana during 2019-2020, 31% of Biological and Biomedical Sciences bachelor’s degrees were earned by students from groups underrepresented in science, while 18% earned master’s degrees, and only 6% earned a PhD degree.

“Sixty-two percent of our former PREP Scholars are currently enrolled in PhD programs,” said Lisa Harrison-Bernard, principal investigator and professor of physiology and nursing at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to continue providing opportunities for research and skills development to post baccalaureate students who have been minoritized in the biomedical sciences in pursuing a PhD degree. It is rewarding to watch our scholars gain acceptance to and thrive in graduate school at top-tiered universities across the nation after completing the one-year training program at LSU Health New Orleans.”


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