This article describes two programs housed within the School of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. These efforts include internship opportunities and a research program funded by the National Institutes of Health that is targeted toward underrepresented populations. Program descriptions, application information, and program outcomes are outlined below.

Minority Summer Internship Program

The Minority Summer Internship Program (MSIP) draws students from a national pool with an interest in spending a summer carrying out research. Experience with minority recruitment has shown that many top minority candidates are interested in medicine rather than research, due in part to lack of familiarity with research and lack of role models in the scientific community. We have concluded that expanding the pool of applicants by familiarizing more students with the research environment is critical before they completely solidify their decisions about postgraduate education.

MSIP Program Description

This summer internship program provides experience in research laboratories to underrepresented minority students and students from disadvantaged backgrounds that have completed two or more years of college. The purpose of this exposure to a biomedical research environment is to encourage students to consider careers in science and medicine. The program runs nine to ten weeks each summer and a carries stipend of $2500. Housing is provided in close proximity to our undergraduate campus; the university has a shuttle service that provides convenient transportation between the medical school and the undergraduate campus.

The specific research project depends largely on the laboratory chosen. Overall, the student can expect an experience similar to that of a first-year graduate student who completes a 3-month rotation in a laboratory to become acquainted with the project, techniques, and people working in the lab. On arrival (or before) each intern receives several papers related to his or her specific research project. The goal of the project and its relationship to other work in the area are discussed, and the student is instructed in the techniques necessary to conduct the research. As each technique is mastered, the responsibilities for seeing the procedure through rest increasingly with the student. Besides daily interactions with others in the laboratory, most groups have a more formal meeting once or twice a week to discuss research problems and developments reported in the literature. Although the style and character of each lab vary considerably, all are composed of very dedicated and hardworking individuals who are more than willing to help others who are similarly committed to learning. The program concludes with a poster session by the interns describing their projects.

Interested students should fill out an application describing relevant course work, research experience, and future plans regarding a career in science. Applications are due by 1 February, although earlier submission is appreciated. The MSIP Program Committee will make the best matches and inform both faculty and student on a rolling admission basis. We anticipate that 50 internships will be available each summer--20 in the Basic Science Component, 20 in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, and 10 in the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Applicants will be informed of their status by 1 March.

Program Outcomes

Over the first 7 years of the program, MSIP has supported 194 interns in the School of Medicine. As of 2000, 85 of these students had received a B.S. or B.A. degree, and 40 are currently enrolled in graduate programs (13 Ph.D.s, 15 M.D.s, four M.D./Ph.D?s, three DDS, and five master?s). Six program participants have matriculated here at Hopkins, four in Ph.D. programs and two in the M.D. program.

Hopkins Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program

We successfully submitted and were awarded a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to initiate a post-baccalaureate program to prepare minority students for entry into Ph.D. programs in the biomedical sciences.

Program Description

The goal of the Hopkins Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program (HPREP) is to extend MSIP by providing experiences that will increase the likelihood of participants? success in applying to and competing in a research-based graduate program. As with MISP, the focus is on underrepresented minorities who?s educational and/or research opportunities as an undergraduate may have been limited.

The core experience that the HPREP scholar receives is an introduction to research as a scientific apprentice. Further development, including formal coursework, technical laboratory training, public speaking, and test-taking skills are tailored to each HPREP scholar. Five candidates per year are admitted to the program as apprentice scientists working in laboratories headed by qualified mentors.

Applicant Profiles

In general, successful applicants for the HPREP program have good (not necessarily excellent) qualifications in two of three areas, namely, grades, research experience, and GRE scores. Other areas we address in the selection process include:

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persons with little or no research experience are seriously considered

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persons lacking depth in undergraduate coursework

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persons deciding between medical and graduate school

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persons with a will to succeed (obviously an intangible, but critical, recruiting component contributing to the success of MSIP)

The interview/matching process. All HPREP applicants must complete an application to both the HPREP program and Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions Human Resources Department. Interested mentors interview potential HPREP scholars and the applicant chooses among the offers for the one best suited to his/her needs. Upon acceptance, each HPREP participant becomes an employee of the Johns Hopkins University with a minimum starting salary of $22,507 and a full benefits package.

Program Structure:

Individual orientation sessions to determine needs and set academic goals for HPREP scholars. The following issues are addressed at the outset of the program:

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What additional coursework is required? Program staff identify specific courses in the various Hopkins undergraduate and graduate programs that the scholar needs to offset weak areas of his or her undergraduate transcript. Should the scholar pursue a master?s degree in the night program at JHU Homewood? At what speed?

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Does the individual do well on standardized tests, or is a GRE prep course appropriate?

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What other issues specific to the individual must be addressed to assure that the individual HPREP scholar has an optimal experience?

Responsible conduct of research. The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is committed to educating all pre- and postdoctoral trainees in the responsible conduct of research. The current program consists of three major components: review of ethical guidelines, instruction in data management, and case studies in small discussion groups. All HPREP scholars attend this course.

Biannually, a half-day symposium is held for the HPREP scholars to present their work to each other and their mentors. At each presentation, half of the scholars present posters and the other half give a platform presentation. An ad hoc faculty committee provides feedback to all scholars on the effectiveness of their presentations on the day of the symposium.

Funds are available for scholars to attend one meeting per year. Ideally, this should be a meeting at which they are presenting their own research, especially for those in residence for 2 years. Following each trip to a meeting, all HPREP scholars will attend a meeting summary providing highlights of the scientific presentations by those who attended the meeting.

Finally, a critical component of this program defies categorization into a programmatic pigeonhole. This institution is comprised of a very tight community of scholars, which extends from Nobel laureate through the most recently hired lab technician. Consequently, a very good network exists for participants in this program. The HPREP scholars are ?just another part" of this community, with the same rights, responsibilities, and very high expectations that we all feel here. This allows the HPREP scholars to decide if they are cut out for this arduous career, and to give them an opportunity to interact with scientists who can help them succeed in this career path.

To date, we have five HPREP scholars in residence and are actively recruiting for the 2002-03 academic year. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and applicants are notified of the decision within 30 days of receipt of a complete application.

For further information on the MSIP or HPREP programs, please visit our Web site. For general information, e-mail the HPREP program manager, Catherine Will, at cwill@jhmi.edu.