Dr. Davila Discusses Importance of PIKE-PREP Program for URM StudentsDec 1, 2022
The Preparation in Interdisciplinary Knowledge to Excel – Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PIKE-PREP) was established within the CU Cancer Center, to offer multi-dimensional mentorship and research training experience to prepare post-baccalaureate students from underrepresented communities to enroll and succeed in a top-tier PhD or MD/PhD program and commit to a career in biomedical research.
“Historically, people coming from underrepresented backgrounds are hyper-underrepresented in STEM,” says Eduardo Davila, PhD, who serves as co-director of the PIKE-PREP program. When proposing the establishment of PIKE-PREP, Dr. Davila drew from his personal experience, growing up in a low-income, single-parent home in El Paso, Texas, where he was regularly exposed to gang and drug activity. “I was constantly reminded by high school teachers that education is the way out. But education was really never part of my plan, even though I loved science".
It wasn't until his college years that Dr. Davila learned the importance of mentorship, when professors took not of his passion for science. During his time as faculty at the University of Maryland, Dr. Davila established the PREP program after observing the number of students whose experiences mirrored his own. It is from the PREP program that the PIKE PREP program was modeled.
“I know firsthand the difference this type of program can make in a young scientist’s life. These students are diamonds in the rough, and at Maryland we were incredibly successful and had more than 30 students who went on to be accepted into MD/PhD or PhD programs. I saw a dire need for something similar when I got to CU.”
An essential highlight of PIKE-PREP is the mentor relationship that scholars develop with faculty members. PIKE-PREP scholars are able to select their faculty mentors and then discuss the scope of research they can complete in a year. Ideally, scholars will be able to publish at the completion of their research year. PIKE-PREP scholars can select either a PhD or MD/PhD track and the program will focus on supporting them in initiating and continuing careers in research science.