The ASCI Postbac Program
The ASCI Postbaccalaureate (Postbac) Program provides an intensive, two-year mentored laboratory research experience for UiMS students (i.e., those identifying as being from populations underrepresented in medicine and science) that will expose them to the physician-scientist career path, strengthen their applications to MD or MD-PhD programs, and enhance their career development.
- Increase the number of UiMS trainees entering the physician-scientist/academic medicine pathway; and
- Expand opportunities for current physician-scientists in training to mentor UiMS Postbacs in ASCI member labs.
Despite the increasing diversity of the US population,1 there remains persistent underrepresentation of certain racially and ethnically minoritized groups in medical school faculty positions.2 These disparities also persist both in the physician-scientist workforce and in physician-scientist training programs.3 Diversifying the biomedical workforce to reflect the nation’s current and developing demographics is critical in order to address growing health inequities. The ASCI Postbac program seeks to recruit UiMS students immediately after they graduate from college and before they apply for medical school. Only 28.9% of medical school matriculants are admitted straight out of college,4 which indicates that taking one or more gap years is already common; thus, participating in the program for two years after graduation would not be disruptive. Furthermore, recruiting physician-scientists during medical school is too late — that pool is already reduced, with only ~20% of medical students self-identifying as UiMS — and once students begin medical school, they have little time for a meaningful research experience. ASCI Postbacs will benefit by becoming more competitive medical school applicants and by gaining strong recommendation letters and intensive exposure to the physician-scientist career pathway.
- Two-year, full-time position as mentored Postbac researcher in an ASCI member host lab. Postbacs will ideally be paired with a current physician-scientist trainee (e.g., a PSTP trainee) in the principal investigator’s lab.
- Postbacs will receive all necessary training to complete basic science or translational research under the supervision of their postdoctoral mentor. We expect that Postbacs will be coauthors on papers describing their research project.
- The ASCI will provide grants to host institutions to pay for the Postbac’s salary and health benefits.
- The ASCI will also provide a stipend for one MCAT preparatory course (AAMC MCAT Official Prep Complete Bundle or UWorld MCAT Prep) and MCAT exam fees.
- In collaboration with the ASCI, a faculty member at the host institution familiar with medical school admissions will provide one-on-one feedback on the applicant’s essays/personal statement.
- Both the host institution and the ASCI will provide opportunities for networking, enrichment, and career development activities.
- In collaboration with the American Physician Scientists Association (APSA), Postbacs will also be assigned a peer mentor who is a current medical student and can advise on the medical school application process (AMCAS), MCAT prep, and related application tips.
- Postbacs will attend the Joint Meeting in both program years to present their research and network with peers, near peers, and AAP, ASCI, and APSA members.
- By the end of the program, Postbacs will have developed the confidence and experience to be highly competitive candidates for MD and MD-PhD programs.
Host labs: Host labs will be solicited from the ASCI membership. Criteria used to select host labs include the ability to assign an existing physician-scientist postdoctoral fellow to the Postbac for daily mentoring; existing opportunities and programs at the host lab institution for UiMS career development; and the mentorship track record of the principal investigator. The ASCI will then match Postbacs to host labs through an internal selection process.
Application: Applications will open in September 2023. Eligible applicants are those who are UiMS as defined by the ASCI Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. Applicants are college graduates who are either in their last year of undergraduate study or received their bachelor’s degree within TWO years at the time of submission. Applicants should intend to apply to medical school during their second year of the ASCI Postbac program. The application will consist of a curriculum vitae (CV), undergraduate transcript, essay (differing from but complementing the CV), and two letters of recommendation.
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Budget and fundraising: The ASCI has allocated funding for the next five years to fund two Postbacs per year. Our ultimate goal is to expand the ASCI Postbac program and to fund it entirely through philanthropic support. Our initial strategy is to start small, as we gain experience and feedback, but we envision that this program could grow substantially. Responses to our early inquiries to physician-scientist leaders in industry suggest enthusiasm for sponsoring this program.
What are the key dates?
- September 15, 2023: applications open
- January 5, 2024: applications close
- February 2024: virtual interviews
- March 2024: candidate decisions announced
- July 1, 2024: program begins
Do I need to pay for this program?
No. Postbacs are provided with a yearly stipend based on the NIH Postbaccalaureate Stipend Table. Note — The mentor’s institution can choose to supplement the stipend with internal funding, for example, if they are located in a high-cost-of-living city.
How will the funds be transferred from the ASCI?
Funds will be transferred as a grant to the host institution. The total grant amount is $55,000 per year (direct and indirect). Indirect costs are limited to 10%. Expenses associated with an MCAT preparation course and the test itself will be reimbursed to the candidate by the ASCI.
Is a two-year commitment required?
A two-year commitment is strongly preferred but not required. In rare cases, a Postbac can become competitive for MD or MD-PhD programs in their first year. These cases will be evaluated on a case-to-case basis by the ASCI and the Postbac mentor.
Can I take courses during my Postbac?
This program does not have course requirements and does not provide a tuition benefit. If the Postbac wishes to supplement their training with coursework, they will need to obtain permission from their mentor, and the coursework should not interfere with their full-time daily laboratory responsibilities.
Am I eligible to apply if I have limited laboratory research experience?
Yes. We recognize that some undergraduate schools have limited opportunities for students to engage in research. To be eligible for this program, applicants must demonstrate a genuine interest in research and discuss why they are interested in biomedical research in their personal statement.
Is health insurance provided?
Yes. Health insurance will be provided by the host institution.
Can I apply if I am not a citizen or permanent resident of the United States?
Yes; however, you will need to meet eligibility requirements to be employed at the institution to which you are matched.
Do I need to have completed my undergraduate degree to be eligible?
You need to have completed your undergraduate degree prior to the start of the program (July 1, 2024). Most applicants will apply during their final year of undergraduate training, but you are still eligible to apply if you received your undergraduate degree within two years of the start date of the program.
If I am matched to a lab in another city, am I required to move?
It is possible that you will be matched to a lab located in a different city. We will do our best to match you to a preferred geographic region, but we cannot guarantee a match in a specific city. We would expect you to live within a reasonable commute to your matched institution.
Am I eligible if I my undergraduate degree was not in a science-related field?
Yes; however, you do need to have completed all undergraduate premedical required coursework. Although these courses can vary, this generally means that applicants will have completed one year of general biology, several upper-level biology classes, one year of inorganic chemistry, one year of organic chemistry, at least one semester of biochemistry, one year of physics, and one year of college mathematics.
Who should write my letters of recommendation?
You should select references who can explain why you would be a good addition to a laboratory research group. This could be an undergraduate advisor or mentor, professor of a class that you took, or a prior supervisor for a summer internship. In general, you should ask your references ahead of time both whether they are willing to write on your behalf and whether the letter will be positive. You may wish to provide your references some information on the program, your resume or CV, and a description of what you hope to accomplish during the program so that they can write a highly relevant letter.
How will applications be evaluated?
A committee of ASCI physician-scientist faculty will evaluate all written applications to determine finalists. The committee will conduct a virtual interview with each finalist.
- Johnson, K. New census reflects growing U.S. population diversity, with children in the forefront. Carsey School of Public Policy, University of New Hampshire; October 6, 2021. https://carsey.unh.edu/publication/new-census-reflects-growing-US-population-diversity.
- AAMC. Diversity in Medicine: Facts and Figures 2019. https://www.aamc.org/data-reports/workforce/report/diversity-medicine-facts-and-figures-2019. Accessed July 27, 2023.
- Gammie AE, Dorsey TF, Epou SF, Miklos AC, Lorsch JR. (2022). Increasing clinician-scientist workforce diversity through the National Institute of General Medical Sciences’ Medical Scientist Training Program. ATS Sch. 2022;3(3):358–78. 10.34197/ats-scholar.2022-0018PS.
- AAMC. Matriculating Student Questionnaire (MSQ). https://www.aamc.org/data-reports/students-residents/report/matriculating-student-questionnaire-msq. Accessed July 27, 2023.