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Bridges to the Doctorate: University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez and Rutgers Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

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For the past 14 years, the Department of Biology at the University of Puerto Rico - Mayagüez has had a productive collaboration with the Rutgers Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School that is designed to help highly motivated Puerto Rican students earn a PhD degree in one of the many fields that lie within the broadly defined discipline of Molecular Biosciences at Rutgers. This program is currently funded by the NIH NIGMS Bridges to the Doctorate Program. Current UPRM graduate students in their first year of graduate study who may be interested in obtaining PhD in New Jersey are encouraged to apply. Below is an outline of the program that describes the student’s experience.

  1. Students successfully completing their first year of graduate study in the Biology Department at UPRM can apply for entry to the Bridges Program. Students from other programs whose research is aligned with the NIH guidelines for biomedical sciences will also be considered.
  2. Three students per year will be accepted into the program, and they will be provided with the following developmental activities.
    • Masters’ coursework at UPRM, with course choices coordinated with the corresponding curriculum at RWJMS/RU, as well as electives appropriate to research interests.
    • Curriculum tailored to maximize credits that can be transferred to Rutgers.
    • Masters’ thesis research and thesis defense at UPRM.
    • At least one seminar course per year offered remotely by Rutgers faculty (open to Bridges and non-Bridges students at UPRM).
    • Summer lab rotations at Rutgers, including a weekly seminar with the Rutgers Bridges coordinator, and assignment of a peer mentor.
    • Summer courses in English proficiency at Rutgers (if necessary or desired).
    • Collaborative research with Rutgers faculty aimed toward decreasing the time to MS degree.
  3. Once students earn their MS degree from UPRM and meet the additional program requirements for the Bridges to the Doctorate Program (outlined below), they will be admitted to RWJMS/RU with advanced standing, allowing them to transfer up to 12 credits of graduate course work.
  4. Upon enrollment at RWJMS/RU, Bridges students will choose a research mentor and enroll in an Advanced Cell Biology course, which will complete their “core” course requirements.
  5. Bridges students will be required to take the oral qualifying exam one year after enrollment at RWJMS/RU, after which their education plan will mirror that of other third year PhD students at RWJMS/RU.
  6. Bridges students will be required to take “Advanced Topics in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics: Writing a Preliminary Exam and Grant Proposal” course that is offered each fall.

For more information and an application, please contact Dr. Mildred Chaparro (787-832-4040, Ext 2451 or 3927)

For more information about graduate education at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, please see the school’s website and/or contact Dr. Jerry Langer (732-235-5224) or Dr. Paul Copeland (732-235-4670).

This program is funded by NIGMS/NIH Grant R25 GM058389.