Project Number5R25GM129809-02
Funding AgencyNational Institutes of Health
Effective Date2020-05-01
Expiration Date2021-04-30
Funding Amount$266,665


Project Summary/Abstract: The Drug Discovery and Biomedical Research Training (DDBRT) Program is a partnership between the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) School of Pharmacy and High Schools in Somerset County ,MD, one of the most rural and underserved areas in the State of Maryland. Minority youth residing in rural areas and coming from families from a low socioeconomic status have practically no chance of experiencing the research methodology and tools used in drug discovery and biomedical research. Studies continue to show that students who demonstrate a strong talent and interest in STEM are most influenced by extracurricular and hands-on laboratory experiences. The primary goal of this program is to train and provide mentoring to minority youth in research methods of drug discovery and biomedical research to motivate their interest to pursue education and careers in the applied healthcare fields and biomedical research. Partnering with science teachers from Somerset County, MD an integrated curriculum was developed that builds on the high school biomedical program (4 courses in 10th-12th grades) and links it to drug discovery and biomedical research hands-on training modules led by an experienced pharmaceutical researchers using state-of-the-art biomedical methodology on the UMES campus. Over the course of the 2-year program, the students will experience hand-on modules designed with teacher input that span the following topics: Drug design and synthesis: hitting the epilepsy target, biomarkers: what are they?, pharmaceutical compounding, opioid abuse, community pharmacy rotation, kinesiology, promoting healthy behaviors & disease prevention, hospital pharmacy rotation, animal behavior, viral infection, prostate cancer, breast cancer, nanotechnology for targeted drug delivery, dosage form design by 3D-printing, analysis by high performance liquid chromatography and antibiotic discovery research. A mentoring program that includes faculty as well as Pharm D/graduate students who are mostly minority students aims to provide a support system to the high school students. In addition to facilitating the training, the pharmacy students will each be assigned a group of 2-4 high school students to follow up during and after the end of the program. The expected outcome is to provide continuing support after the end of the program to all our high school student cohorts with a near-peer role models thereby encouraging them to keep focused on moving forward with the STEM career plans and to provide guidance on college readiness. Overall, the expected outcome of DDBRT is a participatory research program with mentoring support designed to stimulate the student?s interest in and pursuit of pharmaceutical, health-related and biomedical research careers and ultimately enhancing the diversity of the biomedical research workforce.

Anticipated Outcome

Project Narrative: The proposed program focuses on providing minority underserved high school students with hands-on drug discovery and biomedical research training experiences that will foster their critical thinking skills, motivate their interest and reflect positively on their attitude towards science. The program will enhance the STEM learning opportunities of the students by providing hands-on engaging modules in drug discovery and biomedical research training that are integrated with a biomedical program at their schools. The structure will allow maximum interaction of the high school students with an experienced scientist in biomedical/pharmaceutical research and a group Doctor of Pharmacy/graduate students facilitating the learning in the classroom. A near- peer mentoring program that involves pharmacy students providing continuing support after the end of the program to all high school student cohorts encouraging them to keep focused on moving forward with the STEM career plans and to provide guidance on college readiness. The program seeks to attract minority underserved students and motivate their interest in biomedical/pharmaceutical sciences programs, improve their chances for college entry, retention in STEM and admission to research focused pharmacy and biomedical programs.