Can an optimum window for intervention be identified either by student age or level of maturity?
Can behavior patterns critical for a successful biomedical or behavioral research career be taught effectively?
Can the influence of mentors or other role models be measured, linked to outcomes, and modified?
Do research experiences (including collaborations at majority institutions) positively affect career choice, and what are the principal components of these experiences and effects?
With respect to the decision to enter (or remain in) a research career, can the influence of peers, family, community, and economics be distinguished, measured, linked to outcomes, and modified?
Singh provided data on the research community’s response since the RFA’s 2003 inception, including the number of applications received and funded. He discussed changes that the division has identified since 2003 designed to improve the program. One is to be clearer about what the RFA is designed to produce. “We are interested in empirical—rather than evaluative—research that produces generalizable lessons that may be useful in promoting greater participation of underrepresented minority students in biomedical and behavioral research,” Singh said. He also underscored the importance of future applications’ incorporating a sound, theoretical basis for the hypothesis to be tested; a sample with sufficient statistical power; appropriate comparison or control groups; and rigorous statistical methods.
The division also has come to emphasize the importance of a team approach. As Singh explained, “you need people who know how to run a program, people who know how to ask questions, and people who know how to design an experiment and analyze the data…. So a team approach [is necessary]: a collaborative effort among researchers, program administrators, educators, psychologists, sociologists, statisticians, and economists.”
The intention of the RFA was to test the assumptions on which the division’s grants were based, said Barry R. Komisaruk, associate dean of the graduate school, professor of psychology, and Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor at Rutgers University and, in addition, a program director in the MORE Division when the RFA was being developed. Do laboratory experiences, mentoring, academic enrichment, and other interventions really stimulate students to enter careers in biomedical and behavioral research? If so, how do these interventions exert their effects? “What we hoped and we continue to hope is that this research will provide insights