About the IRACDA Program
The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Claflin University have established an inter-institutional cooperative program for postdoctoral scholars interested in pursuing an academic career. This program is funded via an Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award (IRACDA) from the NIH National Institute of General Medical Sciences. The MUSC-Claflin IRACDA addresses three key aspects for training a diverse community of contemporary biomedical scientists with strengths in both research and teaching:
Postdoctoral scholars are often inadequately prepared to become independent scientists in an academic environment due to the emphasis on research and the lack of mentored teaching opportunities.
Exposing students to cutting-edge technologies and research-oriented courses at primarily undergraduate institutions is problematic due to the heavy teaching load of their faculty and limited research infrastructure.
Under-represented minority students have few intermediate level professional role models to facilitate their interest and persistence in pursuing a career in biomedical research.
The overarching goal of this proposal is to introduce a paradigm shift into the training of future biomedical scientists while simultaneously promoting a more culturally balanced professional base. The MUSC-Claflin IRACDA program draws upon the complementary strengths of a cutting-edge research training environment at MUSC and an outstanding undergraduate education environment at Claflin University, a primarily minority serving institution. The multifaceted design of this program facilitates the academic career development of MUSC postdoctoral scholars while simultaneously enriching the biology and chemistry curriculum at Claflin. Specific measures of success will include publications, grant funding, employment opportunities, faculty and student evaluations, student matriculation to and persistence in graduate programs in science, mathematics or engineering, and evolution of course content and instructional methodologies. The program will be administered by Drs. Cynthia Wright and Edward Krug at MUSC with oversight by an Internal Advisory Committee composed of representatives from both MUSC and Claflin University.
MUSC-Claflin IRACDA scholars will spend their first year of support at MUSC establishing their research projects and acquiring formal instruction in preparation for their mentored teaching experience. In subsequent years the postdoctoral scholar will devote 25% of their effort for instructional activities at Claflin University in courses of their choosing. The scholars will participate in every aspect of the teaching experience from preparing lectures and course materials, to lecturing, to grading tests and homework holding office hours, and attending faculty meetings.
The majority of the postdoctoral scholar’s effort as an IRACDA scholar will be on their research activities, as the program is founded upon the hypothesis that the skills of an effective teacher make for a more efficient researcher. Scholars will be encouraged to pursue career opportunities that maintain a balance of both research and teaching interests. The MUSC-Claflin IRACDA program involves a network of mentors to promote all aspects of the scholar’s professional development. Highlights of both universities are described in the “Institutional Histories” section.