Curriculum or Training Modules to Enhance Undergraduate Biomedical Research Training


Listed below are the details of the projects funded under NOT-GM-20-019:


Listed below are the details of the projects funded under NOT-GM-21-025:


Listed below are the details of the projects funded under NOT-GM-22-012:


Title: MARC U-STAR Leaders in Science Program
Principal Investigator:
Triscia Hendrickson, Morehouse College
The goal of this administrative supplement is to prepare STEM students to engage in meaningful research during their undergraduate matriculation at Morehouse College. This will be accomplished by (1) developing Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs) modules for the introductory biology and chemistry courses, (2) integrating a What is Research? workshop into the fall introductory biology and chemistry courses, (3) training faculty to effectively mentor undergraduate research students. The proposed activities will support the work currently being done in the two existing TWD programs at Morehouse College, the MARC U-STAR Leaders in Science (T34 GM096954) and RISE to Excellence (5 R25 GM070514), specifically by enhancing the STEM curriculum. Approximately 490 students will be impacted by this project, which represents 22% of the Morehouse student body and 76% of the STEM majors. The expectation is that these activities will result in a deeper pool of potential applicants for the undergraduate research training programs and better prepare our students to be more competitive for summer research experiences and graduate programs in the biomedical sciences.

Title: The Power of Collaboration: Building Bridges for the Success of Montana’s Underrepresented Students
Principal Investigator:
Ronald Kent June, Brenda F Canine, Brian Grebliunas, Janet Heiss-Arms, Sara Plaggemeyer, Montana State University – Bozeman
The 18-year funded Bridges-to-Baccalaureates program at Montana State University serves underrepresented students from Montana’s rural and tribal communities. Over our history, we have learned that continually connecting with and supporting our students over the 12-month calendar year is critical to their success. Supplemental activities are proposed to develop modular tools and curricula that can be delivered remotely while students are enrolled at their local tribal and community colleges. We propose 3 new supplemental activities. First, we propose to implement a peer mentoring program for our Bridges students. Second, we propose to develop a remotely-delivered hands-on Introduction to Biomedical Research Course. Third, we propose to create a modular and remotely delivered course to understand and record the impact of rare public health challenges on communities. By creating these new resources, and assessing their efficacy, we will forge stronger connections with our students, create peer communities amongst our students, and develop new tools for understanding the impact of rare public health challenges.

Title: Administrative Supplement - Curriculum Development for Bridges to the Baccalaureate
Principal Investigator:
Jani Cheri Ingram, Alvin Altamirano, Aaron J Tabor, Northern Arizona University
Bridging Arizona Native American Students to Bachelor’s Degrees program, the parent award of this proposed supplement, has provided insights into the needs of American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) 2-year students since its inception in 2012. The parent program is designed to increase the number of AI/AN students from 5 federally recognized tribes completing baccalaureate degrees in the biomedical and behavioral sciences at Northern Arizona University (NAU) by providing a unique transition program for students originating from Coconino Community College (CCC) that is academically sound, highly engaging and seamless. The supplement will collaboratively develop curricular programming focused on research with AI/AN populations. The curriculum will be developed to deliver virtually and will be drawn from multiple institutional, regional and tribal partners, based on best-practices for working with American Indian/Alaskan Natives (AI/AN) students. Coursework will cover health disparities among tribal nations, conducting research among tribal nations, research methods, scientific writing, detailed Individual Development Plans (IDP) and Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training. We aim to track both process and learning outcomes by a) assessing participation and interaction with the course content by the participants in the online system through metrics automatically assessed (for example, frequency of use and duration) and collecting qualitative feedback on each course module, and b) assessing knowledge gain by administering pre-and post-knowledge assessments for each module. The proposed supplement addresses an urgent need to provide successful research and career development activities and resources in a standard, online curriculum. This curriculum would be focused on career transitions and planning, best mentorship practices, cultural sensitivity, and AI/AN role model activities in the context of AI/AN health disparities research. This curriculum will provide a sustainable and resource for future AI/AN Bridges students and their mentors that can be taught in remote and face-to-face settings and be adapted to the needs of our students.

Title: Bridge RISE Supplement
Principal Investigator:
Maria E Alvarez, Maria G Castillo, Delfina C Dominguez, El Paso Community College
The goals of the RISE to the Challenge Bridge between EPCC, UTEP, and NMSU are: 1) to continue providing talented EPCC students with the tools to succeed and excel in their freshman and sophomore-level biology, chemistry, and math courses; 2) to continue strengthening the research knowledge and skills of EPCC students and faculty; and 3) to increase the number of minority and disadvantaged students that transfer to a four-year institution with the skills necessary to graduate with a baccalaureate degree and eventually a Ph.D. in biomedical fields. The program provides year-round research internships for twelve students and Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CURE) projects and Supplemental Instruction. During the Spring 2020 semester, students were at various stages of completion of CURE projects when the College closed because of the COVID19 pandemic. Most students were able to process data and present their CURE projects in various formats. But the need to prepare for the possibility of another wave of the disease and students being unable to return to labs is evident. For this reason, it is critical to develop virtual curriculum modules that can expedite (or replace if needed) the completion of face-to-face critical aspects of CURE projects as well as enhance and complement research training activities for students in CURE courses and the individual research trainees. Importantly, efforts must be made to reduce the anxiety some students and faculty may experience with the risk of being exposed to COVID-19 upon their return to campus. In order to ease this transition and make sure faculty and students stay motivated to participate in research projects, we must implement procedures that reduce the risk of transmission. This includes training in the proper use of PPE, social distancing, disinfection procedures, and improving air quality using technologies that can reduce the viral load of circulating air in laboratories. In addition, and although participation in CUREs results in increases in students’ science identity development, CURE projects are often disconnected from the communities in which the students live and current events affecting the world such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the emergence of multi-drug resistant organisms. EPCC proposes to 1) Create, implement, and evaluate a series of innovative online CURE modules that are focused on the scientific and societal impacts of COVID-19 and the emergence of antimicrobial resistance, 2) Generate a repository of field-tested modules, and 3) Install Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization/UV air purification units in laboratories where CURE research takes place to reduce viral particles in circulated air. Activities are designed to (a) provide students with foundational research skills (scientific method, safety, statistics, and research techniques); (b) engage students in applying these skills to perform research using both quantitative/computational (e.g., bioinformatics) and qualitative (e.g., social sciences and public health) approaches; and (c) empower students to connect their scientific findings to broader societal outcomes in the southwest border region. Given the tangible and direct personal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the emergence of multidrug resistant organisms, we will use these overarching topics to frame our proposed curricular and co-curricular activities.

Title: NEIU MARC Administrative Supplement to Enhance Undrgraduate Biomedical Research Training
Principal Investigator:
Ruth B Church, Joseph Hibdon, Emina Stojkovic, Northeastern Illinois University
The long-term objectives of this supplement are to enhance undergraduate biomedical research training with training/curriculum modules that improve skills in ethics related to the use of technology, quantitative/computational skills, and molecular visualization skills to improve MARC scholars' competitiveness in admission to Ph.D. and M.D./Ph.D. programs. Specific Aims: 1) To provide ethics training that addresses researchers' growing data and technology capabilities; and 2) Provide trainees with quantitative/computational tools and instruction, and molecular visualization tools and instruction. Aligned with the Parent Award, profoundly transformative curricular enhancement is the key focus: 1) Ethics training enhancement with a focus on the use of high level technology and sharing this technology globally. We will use current and emerging research on practice with strategies for techno-ethical decision making; 2) Hands-on use of up-to-date computational and molecular visualization software that improves teaching and learning in key advanced level courses – Mathematical Modeling and Laboratory Skills. PIs will develop curriculum and learning assessment protocols, to implement in the existing MARC curriculum. The project will have a synergistic impact on other STEM programs at the University through dissemination of activities and outcomes.

Title: Orange County Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program
Principal Investigator:
Luis Mota-Bravo, Marlene De La Cruz, Farah Sogo, University of California-Irvine
Biomedical research generates large amounts of data (termed “big data”); consequently, there is an increasing need to train undergraduate and graduate students to better understand and mine the data to further knowledge and foster new discovery (Margolis et al. 2014). The NIH Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) initiatives seek to provide a comprehensive training to individuals from multiple disciplines in “data science”- an umbrella term that include computer science, mathematics and statistics, biomedical informatics, biology, and medicine. We propose to develop a series of training modules to improve the quantitative and computational skills of students participating in the UC Irvine Minority Science Programs (MSP) that includes Bridges to Baccalaureate, MARC and IMSD. This novel training component aims at motivating and preparing participants to incorporate data science approaches to enhance their research training experiences and their careers in biomedical research. Participants will be trained in biostatistics, bioinformatics and programming using Biopython. Training modules will include theoretical concepts followed by hands-on exercises to answer biomedical research questions. Using the tools learned in the proposed training, participants will develop distinct and independent research projects. Their capstone project is the presentation of student’s individual research project at a national conference. By participating in the development of training modules, Ph.D. instructors of the MSP laboratory will increase their skills in bioinformatics and computational biology; this will ensure that the training developed is not only sustained, but it is continually improved and adapted to train students.

Principal Investigator:
Megumi Fuse, Teaster T Baird, Frank T Bayliss, San Francisco State University
SFSU has a proven commitment to preparing historically under-represented students for PhD programs and biomedical careers. The NIH-RISE award’s primary focus is to support students’ scientific and professional development when they join an individual faculty’s research group. These awards have proven successful in reducing many of the key educational, infrastructure, cultural, and financial barriers for students to be full participants in research. Since research labs tend to focus on a subset of approaches, training gives good depth of experience within one discipline. However, with the increasing emphasis on interdisciplinary training and quantitative skills in modern molecular sciences, we must expand opportunities for gaining a broad set of interdisciplinary skills, in order for our students to be competitive for entrance to top tier graduate programs. This supplement request will fund a 2-week workshop in collaboration with the Center for Cellular Construction, a consortium between SFSU, UCSF, UC Berkeley, and IBM Almeda, that provides an interdisciplinary approach to studying cellular engineering. This workshop will not only allow us to synergize with the NIH MARC fellowship, by opening it up to MARC-funded students, but will provide a setting for non-funded students to also gain valuable interdisciplinary experiences. It will also provide a mechanism for introducing stronger quantitative skills to students.

Title: U-RISE at Florida Atlantic University
Principal Investigator:
Alex C Keene, Evelyn Frazier, Rodney K Murphey, Florida Atlantic University
The central goal of U-RISE at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) is to expand the pool of students from FAU who enter PhD, MD/PhD, or related programs in Biomedical Science. This supplement seeks to develop an immersive research intensive class for first year U-RISE students, and other URM students interested in pursuing biomedical research at FAU. We will build on our current curriculum and leverage unique research strengths at FAU by developing a year-long Classroom Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) that exposes students to mentored research in their sophomore year. The course will allow students to develop a gene-editing mediated high-througput screen in fish, followed by developmental and behavioral genotyping. Each trainee will be paired with a graduate mentor, and gain experience in scientific methodology, cell biology, genomics, and molecular biology, and scientific communications. Key deliverables include two manuscripts, one describing the methodology and assessment of the CURE, as well as a second group manuscript authored by the students describing research outcomes.

Title: The Next Generation of Black Women Scientists
Principal Investigator:
Doloresi Bradley, Araba Nayena Blankson, Spelman College
The Spelman RISE program seeks to address the underrepresentation of women, and minority women in particular, in the sciences at the PhD level and beyond by leading the effort to produce the next generation of Black women scientists. Our goal for this supplement will be to develop modules that will be incorporated into the existing program that will focus on skills that are essential for careers in the biomedical research workforce. Modules will be developed to strengthen student quantitative/data science skills and skills in the interpretation of data. Specifically, data can be used to tell stories. The challenge with current data science training programs is that the focus is on coding and programming. Most data science training programs do not teach storytelling. The requested supplement will be used to support the development of training modules that not only train students in data visualization and analysis skills, but that also train students in the art of storytelling with data. These modules will be virtual, so that students can access them remotely. The modules will allow for follow-up and reflection and for growth in the students’ self-knowledge through the incorporation of metacognitive training. By strengthening the data science training of our RISE students, this will lead to enhancing diversity in not only the biomedical workforce, but also the quantitative science workforce. Our students will be better equipped to engage in research, particularly research that impacts individuals from minoritized communities.

Title: MARC U'STAR Training Program at the University of Rhode Island - Administrative Supplement
Principal Investigator:
Niall George Howlett, Bryan Dewsbury, University of Rhode Island
The proposed new course development - Introduction to Biomedical / Biomolecular Research - will be a welcome and much-needed addition to the curriculum. This course will provide a comprehensive curricular and experiential introduction to biomedical research and will focus on quantitative and computational skills development. Enhancement of these particular skillsets is well known to mitigate the achievement gap for underrepresented students. This course will not only benefit potential MARC U*STAR applicants, but will also be broadly beneficial for all students interested in pursuing experiential biomedical research, and those pursuing graduate school or professional careers in the biomedical sciences. Currently, there is no course at the University of Rhode Island that synchronously emphasizes the development of quantitative and computational skillsets, particularly in the biomedical sciences. This course will build upon the University's mission to develop and expand undergraduate research opportunities by embedding this training within the curriculum.

Title: Biomedical Research Training MARC
Principal Investigator:
Graciela Alexandra Unguez, Ivette Guzman, New Mexico State University Las Cruces
Optimizing the quantitative training of our workforce workforce is essential for maintaining the nation’s scientific competitiveness and leadership in promoting biomedical research that will improve human health. It is well documented that the misuse of statistical methods is common in basic biomedical science research, even among papers published in high impact journals. These problems stem mainly from a limited understanding of statistics, suggesting that scientists need better statistical training. Our MARC Scholars are completing baccalaureate majors in different colleges and/or different departments within one college. While many departments at NMSU currently offer or require statistics training, these courses are unlikely to provide appropriate statistical preparation for basic scientists given the obvious differences in study designs between science disciplines. Providing our students with curriculum designed around sample sizes, study designs, and types of data that are frequently encountered in biomedical research is ideal. This application requests funds to enrich the scientific training of all MARC Scholars by increasing their conceptual understanding and skills needed to analyze data, assess the literature, improve the quality of statistical reporting and analysis in their respective fields of research, and develop strong communication skills with peers within and outside the scientific community. The Supplement Aims are to: 1) strengthen the students’ understanding and application of a quantitative- based approach when analyzing and solving problems; and 2) formalize the professional development curriculum by implementing effective practices aimed at integrating the students into the research community and helping them make connections that will advance not only the science itself, but their careers in biomedical research. Students will conduct a hands-on data analysis workshop in Summer, Fall and Spring semesters in which students will learn to perform basic descriptive and inferential analyses using “real data.” Data sets will be chosen to provide challenges like those students might encounter in working with their own data (e.g., data entry errors, missing values, outliers). Their acquired knowledge will be translated into their own research presentations and critical evaluations of peer reviewed literature during regularly held meetings throughout the academic year. These activities will be accompanied by core mentorship skills essential for academic success in graduate school. Assessment and evaluation of program practices and outcomes are integrated into the design and continual refinement of programmatic elements. Proposed supplemental activities are institutionalized through course offerings.

Title: The University of Iowa IMSD: Iowa Biosciences Academy
Principal Investigator:
Lori Adams-Phillips, Jeffrey C Murray, University of Iowa
Bioinformatics and computational skills are no longer “elective” but must be part of the core competency for the next generation of biomedical researchers. However, existing curricula on these areas have significant deficiencies, including a lack of introductory, biology-focused courses that are suitable for undergraduate biology majors and graduate students in the biological disciplines, and a lack of emphasis on good computational practices that ensure robust and reproducible computational studies. This proposal supplement describes strategies for building on existing curricula at the University of Iowa to quickly generate courses that will help students at every level become knowledgeable, articulate and facile in manipulating large biomedical datasets to extract meaningful insights. Aim 1 concerns adapting a newly deployed semester-length course called “Introduction to Scientific Computing” which includes topics such as reproducibility in computational projects, version control, command-line interface, remote computing, and general and statistical programming to a 4-6 week long summer workshop format. The summer workshop format makes the course available to a broader community, which includes undergraduate students from the UI IMSD program, nearby 4-year college students doing research in the summer at the university, high school students and teachers in the local area seeking to gain skills in computational research. Aim 2 concerns expansion of an existing Introductory level Bioinformatics course to incorporate hands-on manipulation, analysis and graphic visualization of multiple genome/transcriptome sized datasets pertinent to the biological theme of the course in any given semester. A second goal of Aim 2 is to develop a course pipeline in which genomic and transcriptomic data is generated in-house, allowing students the opportunity to bring biomedically relevant datasets from their raw format through the steps needed to generate value-added conclusions. Fungal genomes have been selected for this purpose based on their relatively small genome size, compelling biological diversity and estimated 1.5 million species, 300 of which can cause primary or opportunistic infections in humans and only a fraction of which currently have publicly available genome sequences. Fungi are also involved in the industrial processing of many of the most profitable products used in human medicine. For example, some members of the Penicillium genus produce the antibiotic, penicillin. In summary, these aims create a cadre of UI students with the qualifications and ambitions to pursue careers involving analysis of biomedical datasets so central to the future of health and medicine in today's challenging environment. The biological (genomic) theme-based projects that form the foundation on which the Aims of this proposal are built ensures that the work described will contribute to our fundamental understanding of biological systems pertinent to health and disease. The proposed expansion to the reach and breadth of scientific computing and bioinformatic courses at the University of Iowa will increase awareness and cultivate skill sets in a student population from which the next generation of biomedical data specialists will emerge.

Title: Plains Bridges to the Baccalaureate Supplement
Principal Investigator:
Jaclyni Canas-Carrell, Laci Alexander, Texas Tech University
The COVID-19 pandemic presents a unique set of challenges for STEM education and authentic, in- person, undergraduate research. There is a need for quality training resources and experiences for undergraduate students that can be accessed virtually. Texas Tech University (TTU) will undertake a three-pronged approach to providing these resources while leveraging the increased, societal interest in biomedical science. This approach will complement the current, NIH-funded Plains Bridges to the Baccalaureate (PBB) Program and enhance the recruitment and support of diverse undergraduate students in biomedical-science-related majors. This supplement to the Plains Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program at Texas Tech University will support the development of virtual research training modules that will enhance undergraduate biomedical research training at Texas Tech University and beyond. The training modules will be used as part of the Bridges participant’s preparation for a summer research experience. TTU will capitalize on successful models from other institutions to engage a broad audience in connecting quantitative and scientific reasoning with current events. The approach will focus on the 1) development and delivery of an open- enrollment, seminar course, “The Science & Math of COVID-19”; 2) development of virtual PBB research training modules, “PBB Scholar Virtual Laboratory”; and 3) development of a free, public, online resource hub, “TTU Virtual Lab Methods Repository.” The Science & Math of COVID-19 seminar course will help to spark interest in the biomedical sciences while improving student quantitative and computational skills; lectures from this seminar will be made available to PBB participants via the program’s Blackboard “course” where program materials are hosted. The PBB Scholar Virtual Laboratory will provide enhanced research training for PBB participants and will eventually be freely available online as a part of the TTU Virtual Lab Methods Repository. These training modules will provide a strong preparation for TTU students to then register for an upper-level course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE). Therefore, the supplement to the PBB program at TTU will result in an enhanced biomedical research training environment at TTU and beyond.

Title: Biomedical Research Training for Minority Honors Students
Principal Investigator:
Louise Hainline, Laura A Rabin, Brooklyn College
This proposal describes and will evaluate a new training supplement to Brooklyn College’s Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Program, which supports the development of the academic, personal, and professional skills of UR students prior to entry to doctoral programs in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. It thus addresses our national need for increased diversity and inclusion in STEM. Although our program has been successful in preparing students to enter and complete PhD degrees in prestigious graduate programs, we are aware that there are additional training opportunities we need to offer our MARC Fellows to ready them for success at the doctoral level. Specifically, this project aims to address the computing skills gap between women and underrepresented minorities and their male majority counterparts as coding skills become increasingly necessary for successful biomedical research. We will also shore up students’ understanding of basic statistical methods and research design, both directly connected with the validity and application of biomedical research results. The goal of our proposal is to use evidence-based pedagogical methods to develop and test a series of Guided Team Projects, on-line modules that are problem-based and require collaborations within small teams of MARC Fellows, organized in a scaffolded manner to become more complex and realistic as participants’ skills increase. MARC Fellows will learn to how to use and apply computational methods in their own research as well as mastering the basics of elementary and inferential statistics and research design in the biomedical sciences using a range of coding tools and specific biomedical examples. The proposed interventions are based on sound theory and research on active, contextualized learning and employs innovative methods that the program staff has tested and found effective with UR students. Using what we have learned about on-line teaching with the abrupt onset of campus closings due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all proposed activities will be on-line. In the first iteration, the modules will be synchronous and taught in real time by doctoral-level program staff, while the presentations are preserved by video-capture for use in future asynchronous sessions. To continue the modules with only modest additional funding in the future, after testing and evaluation, facilitation will transition to a sustainable model of trained peer facilitators. The Guided Team Project method can be easily adapted for use with other content and diversity-focused programs in the future. This proposal will develop the research skills of under-represented undergraduate students aspiring to progress to become doctoral students who will subsequently diversify the biomedical and behavioral workforce when they receive their doctoral degrees.

Title: Expanding a Model Program Which Has Increased the Number of Underrepresented Students in Biomedical-RelevantGraduate Programs
Principal Investigator:
Karen Sinclair Molek, Peter J Cavnar, University of West Florida
Confidence, identity, training, and academic/research preparation are critical to every scientist’s success, especially underrepresented students’ success. Both ethnically and financially underrepresented (UR) students often face impenetrable barriers to realizing their success, especially in regard to the aforementioned aspects. The supplemental resources requested herein focus on enhancing UWF MARC Scholars programmatic components designed to 1) increase interactions with research scientists from diverse backgrounds, 2) provide opportunities for research work with their UR colleagues, and 3) expose and train students in computational-based research projects. We propose to create a one-credit hour seminar course specifically designed to recruit speakers from diverse backgrounds in biomedical research. The proposed MARC Bioinformatics Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) is designed to introduce future scientists to bioinformatics tools and computational data analysis methods. Students will gain an introduction to how developments in modern genetic techniques are used to improve our understanding of medical, evolutionary, and ecological processes, including development and implementation of a research project. To help students further identify with UR scientists, one mentor per semester from the proposed Biomedical Seminar Course with a specialty area relevant to the Bioinformatics course will visit UWF during spring and summer semesters. Literature shows that students from underrepresented groups who work together in a supportive environment where inclusiveness and disciplines are melded are more likely to identify as a scientist thus gaining skills and confidence in their ability to meet their research career aspirations.

Title: The Southwest Idaho Bridges to the Baccalaureate
Principal Investigator:
Cheryl Lynn Jorcyk, Steven Lysne, Boise State University
The Southwestern Idaho Bridges to the Baccalaureate (SWID B2B) program envisions the creation of an enduring undergraduate research program in Idaho that supports both the transition of underrepresented (UR) students from the College of Western Idaho (CWI) community college into biomedical degree programs at Boise State University and their successful graduation. The goal of this supplemental proposal is to improve the B2B student research experience and enhance research community while strengthening our SWID B2B team capacity. This will be done through the development and implementation of research-based training modules and other activities that can be accessed either in class or remotely using a “HyFlex” educational model. Aim 1. Improve the B2B student research experience through training modules that improve B2B student skills centered around proteomics and mass spectrometry (MS). Our training modules will include both Technical skills, where students will learn when it is appropriate to use MS, how MS is performed, and quantitative, computational, and bioinformatics approaches associated with proteomics, as well as Operational skills, where students will learn how to independently acquire knowledge, rigorously design MS experiments, and interpret MS data. Aim 2. Enhance research community while strengthening our SWID B2B team capacity. We will concentrate our efforts on using our peer mentor structure to learn how to maintain that sense of community membership even when we are not able to gather together in person. It is likely that universities will need to be adaptable during the next few years, switching between in-person and remote instruction. Flexibility may include offering the same content and experience to some students who are on campus and to others who are, for one of numerous reasons, prevented from being in a face-to-face situation. Moreover, once the current COVID-19 situation stabilizes, this flexible capability will serve our students well – they have many competing demands and the ability to complete some of their biomedical research training while not being place-bound on our campus will increase the likelihood of their retention to degree.

Title: UConn Undergraduate Training Program for Maximizing Access to Research Careers
Principal Investigator:
Joseph J Loturco, Xinnian Chen, University of Connecticut Storrs
The specific goals of the UCONN MARC U-STAR program are to increase the recruitment, retention, and graduation rates of underrepresented honors students, provide trainees with an extended opportunity to be engaged in scientific inquiry, and to develop a community of underrepresented undergraduate scholars with a shared commitment to contribute to society by pursuing advanced training in biomedical research. In this supplement we propose to develop a multiyear connected sequence of Course based undergraduate research experience courses (CURES). These CURES will be offered in the freshman to senior years. They will be built around the idea of interaction between students and their class research projects across years, such that students in the advanced CURE courses and in the beginning year CURE courses will have connected research projects, regular group meetings, and research goals. A four semester lower division course already exists in the department and we will add a new upper division discovery-based quantitative proteomics course and connect the projects in the courses to create a block of connected CURES. Through this connected sequence we will foster a stronger identity in our MARC and other undergraduate students of being biomedical scientists.

Title: Certification in Principles and Applications of Biomedical Research Tools: From Scientific Curiosity to Hands-on Approaches (PABRT)
Principal Investigator:
Edui Suarez-Martinez, University of Puerto Rico Ponce
The University of Puerto Rico Ponce Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (PRISE) enhances the academic and technical capabilities of qualified undergraduate students, creating a pipeline of well-trained students that complete B.S. degrees in Biology and pursue graduate studies in Biomedical Sciences. This supplement will develop a Certification in Principles and Applications of Biomedical Research Tools (PABRT). It will consist of ten (10) 3-hour workshops to be offered during the academic year and a special Emphasis Project in Bioinformatics. The designed training workshops include technical, operational, and professional research-related activities focused to improve the students’ skills required to succeed when entering the biomedical workforce. We also expect that the designed activities will improve and expand the existing research training environment and technological infrastructure at UPR-Ponce. Workshops will be offered to students who are not yet a part of the UPRP PRISE program. The proposed activities will synergize with the active RISE award by: 1) providing a new recruitment strategy that will target potential future PRISE participants; 2) allowing non-PRISE students to engage and experience hands-on with real research scenarios that may contribute to consideration of Biomedical research-related careers; 3) promoting interactions between PRISE and non-PRISE students by opening the number of volunteer rotations; 4) improving PRISE students’ mentorship skills. Students who complete the PABRT Certificate and then apply to PRISE will increase the competitiveness of UPR PRISE candidates and future participants. Therefore, there will be a challenge and demand to increase the standards and competitiveness of the UPR-PRISE Program which will benefit recipient Graduate Schools.

Title: RISE: Enhancing Biomedical Achievement in Science and Engineering (RISE-EBASE)
Principal Investigator:
Miguel E Castro, University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez
There is a need to train this generation of future biomedical scientists with strong knowledge and understanding of quantitative and computational skills that can be used to develop predictive model to address relevant problems in biology. The use of fundamental mathematical, statistical and computational techniques to study life and living organisms plays a central role in the development of predictive models based on fundamental biological and physical principles. Predictive models will accelerate our understanding of relevant biomedical process by enabling biomedical scientists to analyze and visualize complex biological process. The future generation of biomedical scientists must be equipped with appropriate data management and analysis tools that can enable them to develop an experimental design that includes a predictive model that can facilitate the approach to address and challenge existing knowledge before they even perform the first experimental measurement. The specific aim of this supplement is to develop an active learning experience that can be used by undergraduate RISE E BASE students to learn and apply basic quantitative methods. To accomplish this specific aim, we have set forth the following objectives: (1) help RISE E BASE students to become acquainted with computational biology by requiring an introductory course in computer programming (INGE 3016) and the online MIT Quantitative Biology course in the Fall 2020 term and (2) develop a hands on activity with this supplement where students can identify basic elements of the experimental design, including justification of research, identification of bias, variables, develop a hypothesis, data collection and statistical analysis and develop a simple computer program to construct a predictive model. We expect all UG RISE E BASE students to become acquainted with the use of statistics as part of the data analysis process and the development of basic computer programming approaches to build quantitative and predictive models.

Title: Introduction to Quantitative Genomic Analysis - A CUREs Approach
Principal Investigator:
Viswanathan Krishnan, State University Fresno
Computational and quantitative methods are integral in biomedical research as they lead to a deeper understanding and ability of students to not only process and analyze the data but predict the complex behavior of biological systems. The broadly used term 'bioinformatics' is an interdisciplinary endeavor combining biology, statistics, and computer science, and yet only a few programs in life sciences emphasize these concepts in undergraduate degrees. Early exposure to computational tools is useful for undergraduate students and, in particular, RISE students who exclusively perform biomedical research. The Fresno State RISE program has gathered dedicated faculty mentors to develop an interdisciplinary workshop that will l accommodate a diverse group of students in training them on a specific set of tasks related to quantitative data analysis. The three-week-long workshop will be conducted during the winter intersession and will emphasize a hands-on approach to introduce the students to the fundamentals of programming, statistics, and data analysis through the use of PYTHON programming to a well-defined biological application such as genomic analysis.

Title: Inquiry-Based Human Microbiome for Undergraduates in Distance Learning
Principal Investigator:
Cleber Costa Ouverney, San Jose State University
The SJSU MARC U-STAR program has been committed to support underrepresented students for nearly 30 years The primary goal of this Administrative Supplement is to improve the academic preparedness and research training in biomedical research for undergraduate students in the MARC Program and in a keystone microbiology course (MICR101) at San José State University (SJSU). We propose to revamp this important microbiology course in two main steps. First, we will incorporate numerous modules that will expose students to modern molecular technologies used in the study of the human microbiome as well as numerous hands-on activities using bioinformatics, to teach students the entire workflow of how to characterize the complexity of the microbiomes associated with humans. Second, we plan to expose students to the world of microbes by teaching them microcopy, since this technique is crucial not only for microbiology but many other subsequent upper division courses. We are facing many challenges with potential detrimental effects in the success of our underrepresented students who have been particularly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and the conversions of our courses, teaching laboratories, and our research spaces to distance learning methods. The inquiry-based activities planned will engage students in a realistic research-based setting where we will apply modern molecular techniques and bioinformatics to better prepare our trainees and other students to be highly productive in biomedical science fields for many years to come.

Title: Administrative Supplements for Curriculum or Training Modules to Enhance Undergraduate Biomedical Research Training for FIUs MARC USTAR program
Principal Investigator:
Deetta K Mills, Florida International University
The Florida International University (FIU) MARC U*STAR Plan is designed to address the national deficiency of diversity in the biomedical workforce.The MARC U*STAR Supplement is an enhanced, holistic approach to undergraduate researcher development and graduate school preparation.The training emphasizes quantitative skill development, student wellness and professional development. We plan to implement a formal quantitative training workshop for MARC students to develop their quantitative skills for their research and data analysis, as well as coding skills and its applications. Additionally, the new workshop series will stress the importance of critical evaluation of research and experimental design and data interpretation. In this supplement we will develop a student wellness program that tackles all aspects of student health, specifically targeted toward our high achieving, undergraduate student researchers. In collaboration with FIU’s Student Health and Wellness Department, we will develop a Student Wellness and Resiliency Program, which focuses on physical, mental, social and financial well-being. Finally, we will revamp our professional and academic development workshop series to focus specifically on graduate school preparation.

Title: MARC U-STAR Program at Washington University in St. Louis
Principal Investigator:
James Benjamin Skeath, Washington University
This supplement builds on two major areas of focus of the parent grant – scientific communication and explicit discussions on the intersection of race and science. Through the creation, implementation, and evaluation of new, innovative training modules, students will learn how to communicate complex science concepts clearly to the public by creating science videos, develop a personal narrative that uses storytelling to address the intersection of race and science in each student's scientific journey, and give back to the local underserved community via an ongoing collaboration with The Sophia Project, a local girls club for talented but at-risk St. Louis City middle and high school students. Guided by experts on vaccines, epidemiology, and storytelling, MARC students will create one ASAP Science video on vaccine development and design or epidemiology as they relate to SARS-CoV-2, a Tik Tok video on a hands-on science experiment, and a personal narrative that reflects on their scientific journey and incorporates the impact of race on it. We will share these videos on The Sophia Project website, our website, and appropriate social media platforms to promote their broad dissemination, and hopefully as local health officials allow, we will incorporate the videos in our weekly in-person tutoring and science demo sessions with The Sophia Project. Critically, the proposed curriculum is adaptable to both remote, in-person, or hybrid learning models and will provide students with a creative, communal outlet during what is sure to be a challenging year.

Title: MARC Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research Program at Old Dominion University
Principal Investigator:
Alvin Anderson Holder, Old Dominion University
The Old Dominion University (ODU) MARC program is committed to training underrepresented students towards becoming successful 21st century biomedical researchers by having specialized skills in their field and also broad knowledge of cutting-edge techniques in other fields. We now propose synergistic curricular and training activities, e.g., advanced computational, instrumentation training, and reproducibility and replication modules. We propose to develop two types of educational training modules (Exploratory and Technical) for computing in biomedical research. Exploratory modules would be designed to be suitable for all STEM majors. They would provide broad knowledge of impact using cutting-edge computational techniques in biomedical problems. Technical modules will target MARC Trainees who wish to learn principles and operations of cutting-edge computational techniques. Training in cutting-edge instrumentation will be provided to MARC Trainees, who will learn how to synthesize and characterize new therapeutic drugs according to the guidelines of the American Chemical Society; then carry out biomedical studies with the therapeutic drugs. We will also design and complete a module on reproducibility and replication including a core set of reporting standards for rigorous study design (e.g., randomization, blinding, sample-size estimation, and data handling) that will be utilized by the MARC Trainees. We believe that these modules and training will provide a creative way for our MARC Trainees to further their knowledge and improve their skills in biomedical research. Additionally, through these modules and training, the MARC Trainees will be guided to develop interdisciplinary thinking when addressing complex problems in biomedical research, thus helping our MARC Trainees to be better prepared for graduate school as a precursor to their future careers in biomedical research.

Title: Computation Modules to Enhance Undergraduate Biomedical Research Training
Principal Investigator:
Glenda N Lindseth, University of North Dakota
The UND MARC U-STAR program provides a research experience that impacts most heavily on those who otherwise would not have such an opportunity, and brings more underrepresented groups into biomedical research careers. The goal of this supplemental funding request is to develop training modules to enhance the computation and statistics skills of UND MARC U-STAR trainees, and other interested students, who are participating in undergraduate biomedical research training. The modules will be designed to help students move from acquiring data, completing its analysis, and creating results with visual impact. The modules will include a research design component, a quantitative analysis component, and an interpretation of the results component. A Computer Science Professor and a Statistics Professor will work collaboratively with trainees and their mentors to learn more about their research experiences to make the computational and statistical training activities as beneficial as possible. Evaluation results obtained from the Trainees and their Mentors will be summarized, and recommendations for improvement of the training modules and curricular materials will be considered for improvements.

Title: U-TEAM: Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Training in Comparative Biomedical Research
Principal Investigator:
Jorge A Piedrahita, North Carolina State University Raleigh
Our existing T34 U-TEAM focuses on training the next generation of students in collaborative, interdisciplinary team science. A central component of the proposal is providing the participating students with opportunities and mentoring that allows them to succeed as a member of a complex interdisciplinary team. As this unique program continues to develop we have identified two areas, communication and leadership, where additional competencies will considerably improve the research training outcomes of this program. Our goal is to use the NIH supplement opportunity to develop an undergraduate minor and associated co-curricular activities on Team Communication and Leadership in the Biomedical Sciences. This minor will greatly benefit the T34 mentees by not only providing unique skills that will positively impact them through their careers, but will also make them distinct in their training experience and facilitate their transition to highly competitive PhD programs. Equally important, increased effective communication and enhanced leadership skills will lead to increased self-confidence and will impact every facet of their lives, both in and out of academia. This will help them achieve greater success as they progress through their careers. Finally, by developing a minor that is available to students not in the T34 program, we ensure that the impact of the NIH supplement has broad and sustainable impact.

Title: Supplement U-RISE Program at Delaware State University
Principal Investigator:
Hacene Boukari, Delaware State University
Today’s biomedical researchers represent the backbone of innovation that improves public health nationwide. However, they have little resemblance to the overall diverse populations they are part of, causing increases in disparities in health access and outcomes. Together with the new proposed online activities of this Supplement, the U-RISE site at Delaware State Univeristy (DSU) will promote diversity of the workforce in biomedical research. Being a Historically Black University, DSU is well positioned to significantly contribute towards this goal as its undergraduate student population is about 80% minority, mostly underrepresented in diverse STEM fields. This proposal is to request supplemental support for designing complementary online activities that will be integrated synergistically with those of the U-RISE program at DSU. These activities are in response to the unexpected COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on DSU and U-RISE program, compelling the program to consider offering many of its skill-development workshops online and to design new computational-driven training modules virtually.

Title: Administrative Supplement for the U-RISE Program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County to Enhance Undergraduate Biomedical Research Training By Instruction In The Use Of Electronic Laboratory
Principal Investigator:
Phyllis R Robinson, University of Maryland Balt Co Campus
The goal of the University of Maryland Baltimore County‘s (UMBC) Undergraduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement (U-RISE) is to develop a diverse pool of undergraduates, prioritizing underrepresented races and ethnicities, students with disabilities, and students from disadvantaged backgrounds, who complete their baccalaureate degree, transition into and complete biomedical, research-focused, higher-degree programs (e.g., Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D.), and pursue biomedical research careers.This is an application for an Administrative Supplement grant to purchase for UMBC U-RISE scholars a software site license for LabArchives’ electronic laboratory notebooks (ELNs) and the computer tablets required to run the software. This initiative will enhance our U- RISE undergraduates’ biomedical research training by adding instruction in the use of ELNs, the laboratory notebook of the 21st century.This supplement aims to add another innovative element to the research-training environment for UMBC’s U-RISE Scholars, augmenting their technical, operational and professional development. Increasing diverse perspectives within the biomedical research workforce will maximize potential for complex scientific problem-solving.


Title: Development of Modules to Train Minority Undergraduate Students in Biomedical Research Expertise
Principal Investigators:
Hirenda Banerjee, Elizabeth City State University
We are requesting a supplement to our existing MARC training grant, which will train both the MARC and other interested STEM students in cutting edge biomedical research concepts and training. We propose to develop several short training modules for minority students which will be delivered year round by our highly qualified faculties using state of the art scientific equipment like Electron Microscopes, GC-MS etc. We will measure the outcome by student success and interest development, increased applications and admissions to graduate programs and implementation and adaptation of these training modules in our regular STEM curriculums.


Title: Supplement to U-RISE at Hampton University
Principal Investigators:
Oluwatoyin Ajibola Asojo (Contact), Peter Njoki, Michelle Paulette Penn-Marshall, Hampton University
Supplemental funds are requested to increase the accessibility and capacity for intramural research experiences at Hampton University for pre-U-RISE and U-RISE Scholars. We desire to expose students to state-of-the-art biomedical research starting as early as their first year. Our objective is to expand our biomedical research capacity for creating course-based research experiences (CUREs) and other active learning biomedical research experiences for our students. A significant obstacle to achieving our goals is the absence of the necessary equipment and facilities to implement innovative 21st-century biomedical research training to engage our students. The lack of these facilities and training programs has greatly limited the participation of our students in meaningful and productive intramural research activities. Our focus is drug development and discovery for infectious diseases. We propose to create an intentional training plan that allows pre-URISE students and other HU students to be exposed to biomedical training opportunities that cross-departmental silos. Our proposed activities will complement our ongoing training activities at HU. Objectives of the new training plan include 1) Pique HU students' interest in biomedical research through engagement in intramural year-long biomedical research and CUREs as early as their first year. 2) Ensure that HU students are engaged in relevant and meaningful intramural research in modern facilities and 3) Increase the scientific identity of HU students through the active dissemination of the results of their work via peer-reviewed scientific publications.