Prairie View A&M/Baylor College of Medicine SMART Summer Undergraduate Prostate Cancer Research Project

Principal Investigator: WEIGEL, NANCY
Institution Receiving Award: BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE
Program: PCRP
Proposal Number: PC080748
Award Number: W81XWH-09-1-0234
Funding Mechanism: Collaborative Undergraduate HBCU Student Summer Training Program Award
Partnering Awards:
Award Amount: $159,687.91


The project is a 9-week program of research in prostate cancer supplemented with activities that broaden scientific background and provide inspiration for college students to continue to conduct prostate cancer research. Students from Prairie View A & M University (PVAM) will contribute to prostate cancer research themselves during the program, and they and those they influence may well become the next generation of scientists who will provide answers to understand, prevent, and cure prostate cancer. Students will conduct research, attend laboratory activities, report on their research, participate in a prostate cancer research discussion group, have opportunities to attend a daily seminar series for undergraduates, career education activities, the SMART GRE Prep Course, social activities that promote networking and communication, and obtain individualized career counseling.

This proposal benefits by including participants in a well-established summer undergraduate research program. Since 1989, the SMART Program at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) in Houston, Texas, has provided from 83-133 undergraduates per year with summer research experiences, typically 30-35% of whom are from underrepresented populations, with 23 from PVAM since 2003. The Matsunaga and Conte SPORE in prostate cancer and the Baylor Cancer Center, with a prostate cancer program, provide a strong research community through which undergraduates can conduct frontier level prostate cancer research. The HBCUSSTP will build on existing relationships and continue to strengthen the interaction between PVAM and a top-funded biomedical research institution.

Trainees will immediately begin sharing their knowledge with family members, friends, and college acquaintances, and they will be encouraged to talk to about prostate cancer screening. Our alumni are not physicians, but leave the program with more knowledge than the general public, and they often help others understand the status of research and interpret the information they have been provided by physicians.

The participants selected will have an interest in prostate cancer research, a desire and ability to learn, and have demonstrated potential to be good candidates for graduate study. We will look for promising candidates who have overcome obstacles to obtain an education.

Students will spend 9 weeks conducting prostate cancer research with experienced, successful scientists. Students' projects will encompass topics that include how cells respond to changes in their environment, hormone or drug interaction with hormone receptors, responsiveness of tumor growth and inhibition, expression of genes that cause cancer or proteins that are produced by cancer cells, or gene therapy. Students will become an integral part of the scientific community. They will read scientific papers on prostate cancer, plan and conduct experiments, interpret their results, interact with colleagues, and make presentations at lab meetings and for the program. The projects will focus primarily on basic research that will ultimately contribute to a better understanding of prostate cancer and hopefully lead to therapeutic or even preventative treatment for patients who are at high risk for or have prostate cancer.

Students will learn about prostate cancer and general cancer research through a research discussion group focused specifically on prostate cancer and through SMART Program seminars, seminars presented for prostate cancer researchers at BCM, and seminars presented at PVAM.

Entry into Ph.D. programs will be facilitated by interacting with Ph.D. students, including African Americans. Advice on applying to graduate programs will be provided through workshops and individualized career counseling. Participants will have access to the SMART GRE Prep workshops to improve their scores on the test used to determine opportunities for graduate study.