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The Vanderbilt University Medical Center is committed to a diversified student population. The Office of Biomedical Research Education and Training has been successful not only in recruiting talented graduate students from underrepresented minority populations, but also in nurturing each individual in their development to creative, productive scientists. Focus areas toward reaching these objectives include the following: bridging individuals from M.S. to PhD programs; preparing graduate students and undergraduates for the challenging work ahead, and providing our current students and students at undergraduate minority institutions with the resources and counseling necessary to succeed in our programs. The Vanderbilt Bridges Program expands the opportunities for students to enter Ph.D. programs in the biomedical sciences. Vanderbilt provides flexible tracks for students during their Master's studies at their home institution, e.g., to interact with Vanderbilt faculty and graduate students and to develop the will necessary for the transition from the M.S. to the Ph.D. Preparing for the PhD is a course designed to prepare our Bridges students and any incoming Ph.D. student for the fast-paced, rigorous curriculum of the first year of graduate programs in the biomedical and biological sciences. The goal is to make certain that students understand key principles and literature-based learning necessary for their graduate career. Thus we allow incoming students to prepare for the challenge of reading the primary literature, presenting scientific data, and communicating their own ideas to a group of peers. Representatives from Vanderbilt have attended the National Minority Research Symposium and undergraduate minority institutions where we not only recruit graduate students to our program, but also provide advice regarding career options and training programs. More recently, we have targeted the even smaller pool of Hispanic and Native American undergraduates by attending conferences for the Society for the Advancement of Chicano and Native Americans in science (SACNAS) and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU). This has allowed us to identify programs and faculty mentors within these organizations that support undergraduates with research opportunities and counseling.
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