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SUNY Downstate PRIDE Summer Institute

Program to Increase Diversity Among Individuals Engaged in Health-Related Research (PRIDE)

Objectives

The Need for Increasing the Number of Minority Scientists

It is well known that African American, Latino and Native Americans, who together represent over one quarter of the American population, are only 3 percent of the science and medicine faculty. These statistics are projected to become more disparate, as the American population continues to become more diverse. It is projected that the proportion of the minority population in the United States will continue to increase.

The best-qualified scientists and physicians of diverse backgrounds are needed in order to address many pressing health issues affecting the population today. One such issue is health disparities, which is particularly acute in diseases related to the cardiovascular system. Well-trained underrepresented minorities are needed to find solutions to these crises because minority research professionals are more likely to choose to work in topics or areas related to underserved minorities and low-income communities. Therefore, it is impossible to underestimate the role that minority professionals can play in addressing health disparities. Although this is not to be interpreted as meaning that racial concordance between doctor and patient or researcher and subject is the only way to increase quality of care for minorities, this finding suggests that there is a need to increase the numbers of minorities in the health and research professions.

Vision and Goals

The overarching goals of the Training and Mentoring Institute are to instruct scientists in multidisciplinary approaches to research in cardiovascular health disparities. In order to accomplish its goals, the Institute attracts a cadre of qualified underrepresented scientists who have great potential to contribute to the state of current knowledge in cardiovascular disease research. These scientists are trained in multidisciplinary research methods to address cardiovascular health disparities. The Institute provides mentoring to underrepresented scientists in order for them to transition into independent researchers. It provides underrepresented scientists with intensive individualized training and guidance in grant writing and peer review in order to enhance their capacity for success in their research careers. Upon completion of their training, participants are expected to:

  • Develop a balanced perspective in determining research priorities.
  • Improve their capacity to address and eliminate health disparities.
  • Develop the skills and networking necessary to achieve independent research careers in heart, lung, and blood.

It is expected that the work of the Institute will result in an increased number of underrepresented minority scientists who will be empowered to conduct outstanding research to address disorders of the heart, lung, and blood. This increase in trained minority scientists will have the potential to resolve important research questions, especially for minority communities.