A new program beginning this fall at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine will provide opportunities for recent college graduates interested in research, who may not have had the resources to pursue it.

UKNeu-PREP (University of Kentucky Neuroscience Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program) is a two-year, National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded post-baccalaureate program for recent college graduates from underrepresented backgrounds. The program includes mentored laboratory research and experience, graduate-level courses, opportunities for professional development, and mentorship.

“The UK Neu-PREP is a key piece of a growing trainee pipeline at the University of Kentucky,” said John Gensel, PhD, director of the UK Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center (SCoBIRC).

Participants will have come from an undergraduate institution without substantial research opportunities, including those without a doctoral program in neuroscience. Trainees will connect with experienced faculty in the UK College of Medicine Department of Neuroscience and the SCoBIRC.

UKNeu-PREP was one of six programs across the country funded by the NIH Neuroscience Doctoral Readiness Program within the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). This initiative aims to provide high-quality research experiences for a diverse cadre of post-baccalaureates who have not had access to substantive research opportunities, according to the NIH website. Other funded institutions were Columbia University, Harvard Medical School, University of Iowa, University of Utah, and Washington University in St. Louis.

“I am thrilled that UKNeu-PREP is a part of this inaugural NINDS program to provide post-baccalaureate students an opportunity to gain significant laboratory experience, mentoring, support, and professional development to build a strong identity in neuroscience to successfully pursue a graduate degree and research career,” said Luke Bradley, PhD, acting chair and professor of neuroscience.

UKNeu-PREP joins other collaborative UK programs aimed at addressing underrepresentation in research careers. Along with the post-baccalaureate program, UK has a program through an associated T32 grant for graduate students focusing on the neurobiology of central nervous system injury.

The University also runs the UK STEM Through Authentic Research and Training (START) and SCoBIRC African American Research Training Scholars (AARTS) programs, which “are essential for the comprehensive STEM training of students from all backgrounds and experiences,” said Dr. Gensel.

UKNeu-PREP participants will interact with students in other training programs.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Those interested can contact Dr. Gensel (gensel.1@uky.edu) or Dr. Bradley (lhbradley@uky.edu). More information regarding eligibility and other program details can be found here.

This program is supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R25NS130963. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.