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OHSU-PSU School of Public Health -- Services for students, Biomedical research -- Study and teaching (Higher), Nontraditional college students -- Services for -- Oregon -- Portland, Transfer students


Background and purpose: As part of the NIH BUILD initiative to diversify the scientific workforce, the EXITO project is a large multi-institutional effort to provide comprehensive support and training for undergraduates from traditionally underrepresented student populations who aspire to health-related research careers. Portland State University, a major public urban university that prioritizes student access and opportunity, and Oregon Health & Science University, a research-intensive academic health center, lead the EXITO network comprised of eleven 2-year and 4-year institutions of higher education spanning Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The EXITO project aims for impact in biomedical research by training diverse scholars from indigenous and underserved communities affected by adverse health disparities.

Project approach: Guided by socio-ecological theory, the EXITO project is a multi-level intervention offering a threeyear research training pathway for scholars in the biomedical, behavioral, health, and social sciences. Fundamental components of the model include student outreach and engagement, integrated curricular enhancements, intensive research experiences, multi-faceted developmental mentoring, supportive community and services, and rigorous evaluation and quality improvement. EXITO also advances faculty and institutional development in these domains by holding curriculum development conferences, creating research learning communities, awarding pilot project research funding, providing mentor training and ongoing support, collaborating with other research equity programs, and developing campus infrastructure and services to support scholars with diverse backgrounds and needs.

Highlights: The large and geographically broad network of EXITO institutions engages a range of diverse students, including indigenous populations and students beginning post-secondary education at community colleges. The EXITO model specifically accommodates many students transferring from 2-year partner institutions and facilitates seamless transfer to the 4-year institution. EXITO features several approaches to research training, including supported summer entry into research placements, the incorporation of responsible conduct of research content into general education curriculum, and the intentional matching of scholars with three types of mentors (e.g., peer, career, research).

Implications: EXITO provides an example of a comprehensive research training initiative for traditionally underrepresented students that can be implemented across a diverse range of 2-year and 4-year institutions.


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