UMass Boston Receives $1.3M NIH Grant to Increase Diversity in Biomedical Research Workforce

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Initiative for Maximizing Student Development First Funded in 2008The National Institutes of Health has awarded biology professors Rachel Skvirsky and Adán Colón-Carmona an additional five-year $1.3 million grant to continue their work preparing undergraduate students at UMass Boston for PhD programs and careers in the biomedical research industry.

The Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) program, which was first funded by NIH in 2008, is a research-intensive, skill-building mentoring program that seeks to increase diversity in the biomedical research workforce at the PhD level.

The program has two overall goals. The first is to provide a comprehensive mentoring and research training program to undergraduate students from underrepresented minority or disadvantaged backgrounds so they are exceptionally prepared and highly motivated to enter PhD or MD-PhD programs in the biomedical sciences. The second, broader goal is to catalyze institutional changes that enhance the overall research training environment in the sciences for these undergraduate students.

“IMSD helps students like me gain exposure to the rigors of research quite early in our undergraduate program,” said IMSD fellow Kiloni Quiles-Franco ‘18, who will enter a PhD program at Boston University in the fall. “Because of this, I’ve seen myself and fellow members of the IMSD develop and thrive as students, as researchers, and as professionals entering the workforce.”

IMSD fellows participate in a range of training activities that include guided research experiences; intensive mentoring; networking events with scientists from diverse backgrounds; and workshops on communication in science, ethical conduct of science, issues facing minorities and women in science, and other aspects of research careers. 

Since 2008, the IMSD program has served and provided funding for 97 students. Former participants have received PhD degrees from Duke University and Tufts University; 16 others are currently pursuing PhDs at schools such as the University of Michigan, Brown University, and Brandeis University, and a MD/PhD at UCLA.

Leslie Torres ’18 will begin a PhD program …

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