Keck School program for minorities completes its second year
An ongoing program to attract top minority students to the Keck School of Medicine of USC recently completed its second successful year, and, with the help of sponsors, is hoping to double participation next year.
The program recently received notice that the American Diabetes Association will fund two students for next year’s program who are engaged in diabetes and/or obesity-related research. These students will also have the opportunity to present their research findings at the association’s annual scientific session in Chicago in June 2013.
The Bridging the Gaps: Bench to Bedside Summer Research program allows outstanding minority students to gain exposure to the Keck School’s research and clinical programs.
Last year, 12 undergraduates participated in the inaugural program. This year, 13 students worked with 14 Keck School faculty mentors in their laboratories for eight weeks to produce an abstract and a formal research poster.
This year’s students came to USC from Columbia University, Rutgers University, Cornell University, Harvard University, Oberlin College, Oral Roberts University, Spelman College, Morehouse College, Missouri State University, the University of Hawaii, Manoa, and Florida State University.
During the eight-week program, students received lectures in physiology, biophysics and other subjects, including cultural competency in medicine and minority health issues. The students also were invited to attend special lectures from visiting faculty, clinicians and researchers. Students also had small group and individual meetings with deans, faculty and staff in the various admissions offices to learn about resource specialists, financial aid and global medicine.
Once research was completed, the program culminated in several poster sessions, where students explained their research and conclusions to Keck School faculty, students and researchers.
Visiting students also were given a peek into what life as a Keck School student might be like. Graduate students and postdocs in mentor laboratories acted as informal mentors, and the program’s students met with a medical student panel and individual medical students for questions or one-on-one meetings.
“We were excited to have a modest increase in the number of students participating in the program this summer,” said Joyce Richey, assistant dean of medical education at the Keck School and the program’s director. “Over the next few years, our goal is to ultimately increase the class size to 24 students.”
“Ideally, we hope that more organizations and individuals will help financially support our important initiative to enrich the candidate pool of underrepresented minorities pursuing careers as physician scientists and biomedical scientists,” she added.