This project continues the previously funded doctoral research education program, Promoting Ethnic Diversity in Public Health Research Training. The education program is located within the University of Michigan's School of Public Health's (UMSPH) Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture, and Health (CRECH). The central purpose of this National Institutes of Health Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) program is to increase and maintain the number of underrepresented students (i.e., African American, Latino, and American Indian) who apply, enroll, and successfully complete doctoral studies at the UMSPH.
To date, the program has helped to produce 46 new PhDs from underrepresented groups. The program recruits all UMSPH qualified students, regardless of race or ethnicity, interested in the study of racial and ethnic health disparities. The substantive focus on racial/ethnic disparities is justified on the basis of two observations. First, despite improvements in overall health, noticeable inequalities among population groups persist. Second, far too many health problems fall disproportionately on racial and ethnic minority groups. Clearly there remains an ongoing need for public health research scientists working to describe, explain, and reduce health disparities. Students admitted to a UMSPH doctoral program are nominated for one of the IMSD positions. Selected IMSD students are appointed as paid graduate research assistants. All IMSD students are matched on the basis of substantive interests with faculty who are responsible for personalized research instruction, direction, and career mentoring. IMSD students must also enroll in the IMSD doctoral seminar where they learn about disparities research and are required to deliver research presentations on their own work. Students are also exposed to training in the responsible conduct of research in the seminar as well as through required attendance at 9 school-wide RCR modules. In order to continue the success of the prior funding periods, the UMSPH IMSD program will: 1) support eight doctoral students each year; 2) support students for a minimum of two years; 2) coordinate with the UM Rackham School of Graduate Studies’ Merit Fellowship in order to offer students up to five-years of funding; 4) establish partnerships with three new “pipeline” diversity programs, two supported by the NIGMS Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity (i.e., the “Bridge to the Doctorate” and the “Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program”) and the “Future Public Health Leaders Program” supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The IMSD program’s independent evaluation will be handled by the National Center for Institutional Diversity.