A major transition in stewardship of the Project L/EARN Program occurred in 2008. After 12 years as Faculty Director of Project L/EARN, Dr. Guarnaccia stepped down from that position after the summer 2008 cohort. To honor his many contributions to Project L/EARN, the Peter J. Guarnaccia Award was created. It honors the intern of the year, chosen by his or her peers.
In the fall of 2008, Dr. Jane Miller became Faculty Director of Project L/EARN, co-directing the program with Program Director Deedee Davis. With the assistance of IHHCPAR Director, David Mechanic, they received a $2.95 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to continue the program for five more cohorts of ten interns annually, taking the program into 2014. The programís mission has been broadened to include other groups that have been historically under-represented in graduate training and health research, including those from economically disadvantaged families and first generation college attenders.
Innovations under RWJF funding include active recruitment of undergraduate nursing students and nursing faculty mentors into the program, a formal evaluation of the program, and development of materials and workshops to disseminate the Project L/EARN training model to other universities. In 2008, Ms. Davis presented a workshop about Project L/EARN at the annual conference of the Council for Opportunity in Education that drew nearly four dozen participants from different disciplines and universities around the country, demonstrating the strong interest in replicating the highly successful Project L/EARN undergraduate research training model.
Project L/EARN is in a better position than ever to diversify health research by training students from a wide range of socioeconomic, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds to contribute their perspectives on pressing health issues.
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