Indexed on: 22 May '20Published on: 21 May '20Published in: Journal of Cancer Education
Lack of substantive research experiences and technical skills mentoring during undergraduate studies leaves many underrepresented minority (URM) students unprepared to apply to competitive graduate programs. As a part of our ongoing effort to increase the pipeline for the development and training of successful URM scientists in biomedical sciences with focus on reducing cancer health disparities, the Florida-California Cancer Research Education and Engagement (CaRE) Health Equity Center was launched in 2018. Funded through an NIH/NCI U54 grant mechanism, the CaRE Center is a triad partnership among Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), a minority-serving institution, University of Florida (UF), and University of Southern California (USC) Cancer Center. One of the objectives of the triad partnership is to promote the coordination and implementation of the training of the next generation of Black and Latinx biomedical scientists in Florida and California. An important component of the CaRE program is the Research and Education Core (REC) designed to coordinate the training of URM students and researchers at different levels in their academic and professional developments. The undergraduate cancer research training program under FAMU-CaRE Center is a 3-year (2018-2021) project to identify, train, mentor, and provide the URM undergraduate students with the support network they need to flourish in the program and beyond. In its year-1 funding cycle, the program has made significant progress in developing a novel framework for an undergraduate cancer research education and engagement program at FAMU, one of the forefront minority institutions in the nation. The mentored research program is complemented with professional development and engagement activities, including cancer research seminars, workshops, and community outreach activities. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the strategies implemented for an effective partnership, the leadership and mentoring skills, and outcomes from the year-1 experiences. In addition, we present the progress made in advancing the pool of underrepresented minority students with scientific and academic career progression paths focused on cancer health disparities.