Background: The Southern region of the United States has the highest HIV incidence, and new infections disproportionately affect Black Americans. The Tennessee Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Pathway Initiative (CDEIPI) program supports the training of individuals from groups underrepresented in medicine and science in multiple areas of research to increase the pool of HIV-focused investigators at early educational and career stages.
Setting: The Tennessee CFAR is a partnership between Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Meharry Medical College (one of the oldest historically Black medical colleges), Tennessee Department of Health, and Nashville Community AIDS Resources, Education and Services (a sophisticated community service organization, which emphasizes research training responsive to regional and national priorities).
Methods: The Tennessee CFAR CDEIPI program leverages existing Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Meharry Medical College structured biomedical training programs for high school and undergraduate students to provide an intensive, mentored, HIV research experience augmented by CFAR resources situating this training within the broader history, scientific breadth, and societal and political aspects of the HIV epidemic.
Results: The first year of the Tennessee CFAR CDEIPI program trained 3 high school and 3 undergraduate students from underrepresented in medicine and science backgrounds in basic, clinical/translational, and community-focused research projects with a diverse group of 9 mentors. All students completed the program, and evaluations yielded positive feedback regarding mentoring quality and effectiveness, and continued interest in HIV-related research.
Conclusions: The Tennessee CFAR CDEIPI program will continue to build upon experience from the first year to further contribute to national efforts to increase diversity in HIV-related research.
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