The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center and the Deep South Resource Center for Minority Aging Research (RCMAR) will use funding from a recent grant to launch an intensive multi-year summer experience: UAB Research in Aging through Mentorship and Practice—Undergraduate Program (UAB RAMP-UP).

To reduce health disparities in older adults, diversity of research is imperative. Ensuring this diversity is maintained requires the strategic nurturing of pipeline training programs such as RAMP-UP.

RAMP-UP gives underrepresented and rural undergraduate students a team of mentors to support their educational achievements and career development. Each mentorship team consists of a personal advocate, academic mentor, and career coach.

Advocates are assigned, based on the trainee’s home academic institution, and will champion students across the university/college and personal networks. Next, the mentors will focus on the participant’s academic, training, and educational endeavors Lastly, the career coach will relate personally to the student and guide in using their experiences to be successful in their careers.

RAMP-UP is looking for qualified students from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Tuskegee, Alabama A&M, Alabama State University, Oakwood University, and Stillman College.

RAMP UP PIs 2RAMP-UP will be conducted under the leadership of Mona Fouad, M.D., MPH, director of the UAB Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center, and Raegan Durant, M.D., MPH, associate professor of medicine in the division of preventive medicine.

The MHRC Training Program team has already begun facilitating the RAMP-UP implementation and recruitment efforts. Director Ann Smith, MPH, says, “we are delighted to launch this new program for an undergraduate summer research experience, working with our colleagues in aging and health disparities research.”

Smith and her team will work with students over the course of three years.

During the first year, students will spend eight weeks of the summer working on a research project. Projects are guided by hands-on training with mentors that includes the best practices needed to contribute to research, methodology, planning, procedures, analysis, and lab skills.

After their first summer, students will use the nine-month interim to engage in a Virtual Journal Club in each of the MSTEM areas (Medicine, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) that play important roles in aging research.

At the end of their second summer, students will develop a poster and presentation that explains their research project. After graduation—which wraps up the participants’ second eight-week summer program—students will complete the third and final year in virtual maintenance training, preparing them to conduct advanced study research.

Smith concludes, “Through RAMP-UP, we’ll introduce undergraduate students to the importance and need for research and studies aimed at helping our aging population. We look forward to convening the inaugural group of students to participate in June and July this summer.”