The primary goal of the Mentored Experiences in Research, Instruction, and Teaching Program (MERIT) is to provide Postdoctoral Scholars with outstanding research and teaching experiences while improving the recruitment of underrepresented groups into the field of biomedical research. The immediate objective of the IRACDA-MERIT Program is to enhance the research backgrounds and teaching experiences of developing scientists in order to prepare them to conduct high quality research in an academic environment. Long-term objectives for this program are three-fold: 1) to enhance research-oriented teaching at partner institutions that have a historical mission and a demonstrated commitment to providing training, encouragement and assistance to students from groups underrepresented in biomedical and behavioral research; 2) to further promote interactions between research-intensive universities and partner institutions that will lead to collaborations in research and teaching; and 3) to develop highly trained biomedical and behavioral scientists from diverse populations. To achieve these objectives, qualified Postdoctoral Scholars are recruited into a four year program that provides research experiences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and teaching experiences at Oakwood University and Stillman College. Through these experiences, the Postdoctoral Scholars gain knowledge and skills in both biomedical research and higher education instructional design. Together, UAB and its partner schools collaborate in the overall design, improvement, and sustainability of the IRACDA-MERIT Program.

Applicants to the IRACDA-MERIT Program must be Ph.D. candidates or recent Ph.D. recipients (within the past year) and a US citizen or non-citizen national; individuals with comparable degrees, including the MD and DVM, are also eligible. Women and persons from diverse backgrounds, including underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, are encouraged to apply.

The underlying philosophy that drives the IRACDA-MERIT Program is that successful academicians combine a love of learning and teaching with a passion for research. The mission of the IRACDA-MERIT Program, therefore, is to provide experiences in both teaching and research that will permit Postdoctoral Scholars to become tomorrow's leading academicians, while at the same time prompting undergraduate students from underrepresented groups to pursue advanced degrees in STEM disciplines.