US academic science lacks racial, ethnic, sex, gender, disability, and socioeconomic diversity. Addressing this problem is essential to drive scientific progress but is confounded by broad misunderstandings regarding diverse groups. Increasing representation in science is particularly relevant in geroscience, where our research to maximize healthy human lifespan must also address existing racial and socioeconomic health disparities. The American Aging Association (AGE) is committed to addressing these issues as part of its larger mission to advance and promote geroscience research. Over the last three years, AGE has sponsored an exhibition booth staffed by trainee leaders to promote our society and research at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS), an ideal venue to interact with diverse students from across the country. Through our interactions with students, advocates, and representatives from other institutions and societies, we have learned a great deal about how to engage and promote the success of diverse students in the sciences. Here, we share these insights that are helping shape our own outreach efforts. In addition to interacting with ABRCMS attendees, we also learned a great deal about how societies like AGE can partner with other organizations to advance our shared goals and the importance of reaching students early in their academic journey to promote their success. Finally, we consider how to grow our outreach efforts beyond ABRCMS to reach those in disadvantaged areas and support students navigating academic science.
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We would like to thank Matt Kaeberlein, Michael Kiflezghi, Arianna Gomez, and Daniel Promislow for the careful and critical review of the manuscript. We thank our partner programs for advertising with AGE at ABRCMS: USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, Johns Hopkins Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, University of Washington Nathan Shock Center of Excellence in the Basic Biology of Aging, and The Dog Aging Project. We thank the University of Washington Nathan Shock Center for sponsoring MBL travel to ABRCMS.
MBL is supported by the NIH Alzheimer’s Disease Training Program (T32 AG052354). DD is supported by the Alzheimer’s Association Research Fellowship (AARF-17-533294) and the American Federation for Aging Research Diamond Postdoctoral Fellowship. CMH is supported by the NIH-NIDDK Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA (F32 DK115137).
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Lee, M.B., Datta, D., Hill, C.M. et al. The importance of diversity and outreach in geroscience research: Insights from the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. GeroScience 42, 1005–1012 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11357-020-00191-3
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