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Lessons Learned from ToxMSDT: A Pilot Innovative Toxicology Research Education Pipeline Program Targeting Underrepresented Undergraduate Students to the Field of Toxicology.

Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

Toxicology, as a profession, lacks diversity. Undergraduate students, and especially underrepresented students, are not commonly introduced to toxicology at US colleges and universities. The Toxicology Mentoring and Skills Development Training Program (ToxMSDT) seeks to acquaint underrepresented undergraduates enrolled in STEM fields with toxicology fundamentals and skills to aid their entry into graduate programs and, ultimately, careers in toxicology. ToxMSDT is a collaboration among three universities. It is a year-long holistic training and mentoring program comprised of web resources accessible 24/7 and extensive one-to-one mentor-mentee interactions throughout the year. Evaluation of the two-year pilot program shows that students expressed a significant increase in knowledge about toxicology careers, networking with people involved in the field of toxicology, feelings of being part of the toxicology community, and seeing themselves as someone who will study toxicology, compared with their feelings prior to their participation in the ToxMSDT program. Thirty students have completed the ToxMSDT program and all 10 (100%) of those who have graduated have joined graduate school in toxicology or toxicology-related STEM fields. Of the 20 (66.6%) program alumni still enrolled as undergraduates, five (25%) are in the process of applying to graduate programs and medical schools as of August 2019.

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