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Student Transformative Experiences to Progress Under-Represented Professionals (STEP-UP)

This application, entitled “Student Transformative Experiences to Progress Underrepresented Professionals” (STEP-UP) for cancer prevention, is a multidisciplinary initiative led by the Cancer Prevention and Control and Health Disparities Programs’ faculty at the University of Arizona Comprehensive Cancer Center. It is uniquely designed to provide 55 undergraduate and 54 Masters’ degree seeking students with an intensive, 12-week summer research experience in cancer prevention and control. Educational pedagogy will inform on our methodology in order to assure students receive the quality research experience that not only will increase understanding, but also will motivate students toward a continued educational commitment to advance in cancer prevention and control sciences. The emphasis in training will be largely within the clinical trials to community-based participatory research end of translational research, yet offering students 2 week-long immersion opportunities to experience cancer prevention and control science across the entire continuum of basic to applied and even dissemination research. Over 35 faculty members from diverse disciplines who are funded in cancer prevention and control research are committed to this program. The program fills a gap in our web of training opportunities for underrepresented students and yet builds on a substantial foundation of purpose-driven efforts at the UA and the Arizona Cancer Center to attract and retain a diverse student body in cancer prevention and control research. Importantly, this effort leverages our international reputation in cancer prevention research. Our specific aims include: 1. Recruit undergraduate and Master’s level graduate students from URM into the STEP-UP in cancer prevention 12-week summer experiential cancer prevention and control research training; 2. Provide an integrated, innovative, multidisciplinary educational experience in cancer prevention and control research that strengthens self-efficacy and intrinsic motivation to become a cancer prevention and control scientist; 3. Support mentoring and professional relationships with scientists, research programs and community partners; 4. Conduct formative and summative evaluations to improve the program over time. The training program is centralized in Southern Arizona and offers experiential learning within our unique catchment area which is rich in diversity relative to ethnicity (30.7% Hispanic), race (5.8% Native Americans) and age (16.4% over age 65 years). This distinctive location, strong community ties, university facilities and resources for research and education, as well as committed and experienced faculty mentors and program leaders, assures a quality program that will impact the diversity, competence and commitment of the cancer prevention and control workforce of the future.

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