Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Texas, as it is in all of the United States. Data from the Texas Department of Health show that African Americans have a cancer death rate that is 36% higher than for non-Hispanic whites, and that African American men have a 50% higher death rate from cancer than non-Hispanic white males. Statewide, African American men have a higher incidence of prostate, lung, colon, and rectum cancers than non-Hispanic white men. Coupled with the disparity in cancer incidence, projections for educational attainment in these ethnic populations, historically low because of socioeconomic and other factors, suggest continued disparity among minorities for college, graduate, and professional school enrollment. Therefore, there is an urgent need to increase the number of African American students entering professional health care careers.
The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth (UNTHSC) has been a leader among the health science centers in Texas in training minority biomedical scientists and in developing innovative programs specifically tailored to Texas minority populations. We have achieved this success through our continued strong affiliations with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, and Mississippi.
In the proposed application, we will attract a talented pool of underrepresented minority (URM) students from our affiliated HBCU, provide them meaningful research experience in prostate cancer research, supplement their lab experience with formal coursework and workshops, and track their careers after their summer research experience is complete.
Our expectation is that greater than 80% of the students who participate in the summer prostate cancer program will continue their interest in prostate cancer research and will pursue higher education in biomedical and health related fields. This expectation is based on the positive experience the students have had in the summer program, their GRE preparation, and extended mentoring from the laboratory mentor, HBCU faculty advisor, and the program director.