Longitudinal Education and Career Outcomes of a Cancer Research Training Program for Underrepresented Students: The Meharry-Vanderbilt-Tennessee State University Cancer Partnership

CBE Life Sci Educ. 2022 Sep;21(3):ar41. doi: 10.1187/cbe.21-10-0308.


This study examined longitudinal education and career outcomes of the Meharry-Vanderbilt-Tennessee State University Cancer Partnership, the longest-running National Cancer Institute (NCI) Comprehensive Partnerships in Advancing Cancer Health Equity (CPACHE) program site in the United States. Degree completion rates were calculated and progression along the entire postsecondary "pipeline" was quantified for 204 participants recruited between 2011 and 2020. For participants who had entered the workforce, career outcomes were also analyzed. Relative to comparison data, participants completed degrees and progressed through the higher education "pipeline" to earn advanced degrees at remarkably high rates; the majority entered careers in which they support or conduct cancer research. The latter is important, because most participants identify with demographic categories currently underrepresented in the cancer research workforce. This article makes two contributions to knowledge on research training programs for underrepresented students: 1) it quantifies participants' progression along the entire postsecondary education pipeline as well as into the workforce, and 2) it identifies points where participants are most prone to exit the pipeline rather than progress. We identify two types of exits-permanent and temporary-and offer empirically supported operational definitions for both. Evaluators may find the quantitative model and/or definitions useful for analyzing similar programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Neoplasms*
  • Students*
  • Tennessee
  • United States
  • Universities
  • Workforce