The direct route from a bachelor’s degree to graduate school will always be the most heavily traveled but for many aspiring scientists, there are detours.
With NIH funding that is specifically earmarked for increasing the number of future researchers from under-represented groups, the PREP Program, based at the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Science, offers another choice, another chance.
Under the direction of Dr. Henry Wortis, the Tufts PREP has five openings each year for what he describes as apprenticeships in the research laboratories of leading scientists.
“Not everyone with a plan for a career in medical research has smooth sailing,” Dr. Wortis said. “Any number of factors can come up, from financial limits to family issues.
“Some are ‘late bloomers’ and some don’t feel that their undergraduate education really prepared them enough. A few go to work in private industry for a while and decide to come back. Others come from entirely different careers with a new-found passion for science.”
Each participant is placed in the lab of a senior researcher who also serves as a mentor. Their responsibilities as lab assistants give them all valuable experience in research techniques and management.
In addition, every participant is assigned a research project of his or her own. The project comes with its own support team, a research advisory committee of scientists.
The members of these advisory committees provide direction at key steps in the projects, including preparation for presenting the work through papers, posters and oral presentations.
For more information on the PREP Program, visit the Sackler School website