Sponsored by the Minority Access To Research Careers (MARC) Branch of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (otherwise known as PREP) at CWRU School of Medicine is designed to support recent diverse college graduates who are preparing for a career in biomedical research. The program offers a paid research experience with seasoned investigators in active and dynamic laboratories. These faculty research mentors provide strong training in the practice and culture of science.
In addition, students complete innovative programming to strengthen academic preparation, to increase communication skills, and to complete graduate school applications that will augment the research experience. Measurable outcomes include matriculation at CWRU and other graduate programs, as well as indicators of science attitudes, coursework grades, and personal reflections of accomplishment.
Core Experience and Activities
Your core experience as a PREP Scholar is an introduction to research as a scientific apprentice. You'll participate as a paid technician and complete other PREP activities for the remainder of your effort. You will be matched with a funded investigator in an area of your interest to experience research first-hand. Other developmental activities will be tailored to your unique needs, including laboratory and technology training, formal coursework, written and oral communication skills, and test-taking workshops.
- You'll take specific coursework tailored to your needs, and tuition will be covered
- You'll participate in departmental seminars and journal clubs
- Your performance on standardized tests will be improved through GRE preparation workshops
- You'll meet weekly to present your work to each other and your mentors
- You'll complete a course in the Responsible Conduct of Research
- You'll maintain regular contact with the Program Coordinator
- You'll post progress on the PREP Scholar's Hub
- You'll apply to graduate programs with coaching on personal statements and interviewing
- You'll become members of the Minority Graduate Student Organization (MGSO) at CWRU which fosters development through seminars, meetings, and social activities.
- Take GRE and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), if appropriate
- Prepare personal statements
- Select graduate programs
- Identify skills for success in graduate school and formulate an individual development plan
Most Scholars begin around July 1. The first objective is assessment of personal goals and research interests, then mini-rotations are used in selecting a research lab. Individual plans are prepared in consultation with the Program Director.
During these orientation sessions, the unique needs and goals of each Scholar will be identified. Specifically, the following questions will be addressed:
- What additional coursework is needed to augment the Scholar's record?
- Are there new areas of interest?
- Is a GRE prep course appropriate?
- What other unique issues need to be addressed to ensure optimal preparation?
- Can mini-rotations help identify research mentor for the year?
PREP Scholars continue to meet weekly as a group with PREP leadership throughout the year.
Goals and Program Objectives
- Socialize Scholars to the research environment: Direct laboratory research and mentoring convey the culture of science and its rewards, increase understanding of research process, and increase identity with the profession.
- Improve academic preparedness: Science or math graduate coursework, tutoring, and workshops address educational needs.
- Provide a foundation for student success: Access to a diverse and supportive network of student groups and programs fosters a sense of community and provides additional avenues of connection.
- Enhance professional development and communication and technology skills: Participation in research forums institutionally and nationally and workshops on communication and technology literacies will supply the future tools needed for success.
Research Symposia and Meetings
Research experience is key to the PREP and is likely to produce results! Scholars have the opportunity to present their research and attend national meetings, including Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS). Following each trip, all Scholars attend a debriefing meeting where attendees will summarize highlights of the research presented.
Progress of the PREP Scholars is evaluated on an ongoing basis by the Program Director, the Program Coordinator, and the PREP Steering Committee. PREP program activities increase both the Scholar's preparedness and likelihood to pursue biomedical graduate work. A variety of methods are used to provide ongoing feedback:
- Weekly meetings, courses, grades, attendance, and test preparation
- Baseline evaluation at the start of the program and exit survey with annual follow-up
- Progress report submissions every six months
A final measure of evaluation is the letter of recommendation for Scholars who choose to pursue doctoral study. The Program Director will write differentiated letters of recommendation that clearly assess Scholars' achievements and promise. This letter is completed after review of the mentor's evaluation of research skills and interests, discussion of future goals, grades, and GRE scores.