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About the Program

Individuals Talking About the ProgramOur mission is to provide highly trained biomedical scientists who are Deaf and hard of hearing (Deaf/HH) with the knowledge and skills to pursue research and teaching careers in academia.

To achieve this, our program integrates individual and institutional activities to improve Deaf/HH postdoctoral scholars’ preparation and skills as they advance academically toward careers in biomedical sciences at institutions committed to educating underrepresented and underserved persons.

Program Goals

  • Develop a group of highly trained D/HH biomedical scientists who have the necessary knowledge and skills to pursue independent research and teaching careers in academia.
  • Strengthen and modernize science educational offerings at RIT, and promote research and educational links between the University of Rochester and RIT/NTID, an institution with a demonstrated commitment to educating D/HH students underrepresented in the biomedical research enterprise of the nation.
  • In addition to training D/HH postdoctoral Scholars to be cutting-edge academic researchers and educators, the outcomes of this program will be to:
    • Enrich RIT and its colleges’ (e.g., College of Health Sciences and Technology and NTID) science educational offerings with the most contemporary research topics, laboratory experiences, and advanced courses in the biomedical sciences.
    • Promote links between UR and RIT that lead to new collaborations in faculty research and student training.
    • Foster the development of the next generation of D/HH scientists who will address the nation’s research needs.

Program Highlights

Mentored Research

Rochester Postdoc Partnership scholars will conduct mentored research at the University of Rochester Medical Center that is typical of other competitive postdoctoral biomedical research opportunities. The research mentor and a three-member advisory committee will sponsor and oversee the proposed research development program to ensure that the fellow receives the proper guidance and mentoring for a future independent research career. The postdoctoral fellow will devote 75%-effort to these activities.

Mentored Teaching

Postdocs will have the opportunity to improve their academic and teaching skills through mentored practicum teaching experiences at RIT/NTID. We also offer additional mentored and/or didactic experiences to improve critical academic skills in team science leadership, communication, grant writing, and other “academic survival skills” to prosper in an academic environment. The postdoctoral fellow will devote 25%-effort to these activities.

Research Career Development Program

The Rochester Postdoc Partnership includes a Research Career Development Program that takes advantage of a well-developed Mentor-Scholar Development Program developed by the University of Rochester Clinical and Translational Science Institute. This program provides team mentoring relevant to Deaf/HH postdoctoral scholars early in their career development, while enhancing the competency of URMC faculty to work with Deaf/HH scholars and facilitate ongoing institutional change at URMC.

Mentorship Opportunities

Rochester Postdoc Partnership scholars will have the opportunity to serve as near-peer mentors to Deaf/HH master’s students in our Bridges to the Doctorate Program, a first-of-its-kind program providing scientific mentorship to help Deaf/HH individuals to become strong candidates for doctoral degree programs in the biomedical or behavioral sciences.

Mentor Training

A unique component of our program is that all URMC research mentors and lab personnel receive comprehensive training in cross-cultural competency with Deaf/HH persons in four competency attributes: (1) Cultural Knowledge, (2) Awareness, (3) Sensitivity, and (4) Communication Competence, which entails awareness and respect of communication needs, and does not require competency in ASL.

Examples of Training Modules

  • Communication needs during lab meetings.
  • How to organize a lab to meet safety requirements for Deaf/HH persons.
  • Understanding language differences, body language and expressions of emotions in communicating with Deaf/HH persons.
  • Etiquette for communicating with Deaf/HH persons through an interpreter or other access services personnel in meetings or classroom settings.
  • How to formally teach Deaf/HH persons the knowledge and skills that hearing persons typically learn through the "informal curriculum" (hallway chats, lab banter, spontaneous peer-to-peer discussions).
  • How to use voice recognition software that allows spoken words to be instantly turned into text, among other topics.

Program Support

The Rochester Postdoc Partnership is supported by funding from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) through the Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award (K12 GM106997). 

NIGMS supports basic research that increases understanding of biological processes and lays the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention. NIGMS-funded researchers seek to answer important scientific questions in fields such as cell biology, biophysics, genetics, developmental biology, pharmacology, physiology, biological chemistry, bioinformatics, computational biology, selected aspects of the behavioral sciences and specific cross-cutting clinical areas that affect multiple organ systems.