Educating the Next Generation of Undergraduate URM Cancer Scientists: Results and Lessons Learned from a Cancer Research Partnership Scholar Program.

Research paper by Elinor E Gaida, Anthony J AJ Barrios, Roland R Wolkowicz, Sheila E SE Crowe, Sanford I SI Bernstein, Mercedes A MA Quintana Serrano, Jill N JN Dumbauld, Bilge B Pakiz, Richard M RM Cripps, Elva M EM Arredondo, Maria Elena ME Martinez, Hala H Madanat

Indexed on: 18 Nov '19Published on: 16 Nov '19Published in: Journal of Cancer Education


To improve cancer disparities among under-represented minority (URM) populations, better representation of URM individuals in cancer research is needed. The San Diego State University and University of California San Diego Moores Cancer Center Partnership is addressing cancer disparities through an educational program targeting undergraduate URM students. The Partnership provides a paid intensive summer research internship enriched with year-round activities that include educational sessions, a journal club, mentorship, social activities, and poster sessions and presentations. Program evaluation through follow-up surveys, focus groups, and other formal and informal feedback, including advisory and program steering committees, are used to improve the program. Long-term follow-up among scholars (minimum of 10 years) provides data to evaluate the program's long-term impact on scholars' education and career path. Since 2016, 63 URM undergraduate students participated in the scholar program. At the year-2 follow-up (2016 cohort; n = 12), 50% had completed their Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and/or applied to graduate or medical school. Lessons learned during the course of the program led to implementation of changes to provide a better learning experience and increase overall program satisfaction. Updates were made to recruitment timeline, improvements of the recruitment processes, refinement of the program contracts and onboarding meetings, identification of essential program coordinator skills and responsibilities, adjustments to program components, and establishment of a well-mapped and scheduled evaluation plan. The Partnership identified best practices and lessons learned for implementing lab-based internship scholar programs in biomedical and public health fields that could be considered in other programs.