MU receives $1.1 million training grant to increase diversity in biomedical sciences

November 01, 2013

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Since 2003, University of Missouri faculty have been working to increase diversity in 30 biomedical sciences departments and programs by recruiting minority students into the MU Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP). Now, a $1.1 million training grant from the National Institutes of Health will allow the program to continue for another four years.

"PREP allows students with very high potential to enhance their academic portfolios and their laboratory expertise and gives them a little more time to scientifically mature so that by the time they apply to a doctoral program they are highly competitive," said Chris Hardin, co-director of the grant and professor and chair of the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology. "The goal of the program is to increase the diversity of students entering graduate school in the biomedical sciences by providing research and educational experiences designed to enhance post-baccalaureate students' competitiveness."

Of the 28 scholars who have completed the PREP program at MU since 2003, 22 have been accepted into competitive doctoral programs in a biomedical field, one into medical school, and two into masters programs. They also are finishing their doctoral programs approximately one year earlier than their peers. The new grant will support seven post-baccalaureate students each year with research assistantships in the labs of MU faculty members, and include tuition for coursework and additional professional development training.

Hardin co-directs the program with John David, associate professor of biological sciences, and Michael Garcia, associate professor of biological sciences and an investigator in the Bond Life Sciences Center.

While in the program, scholars are expected to be involved fully in all phases of a faculty-mentored research project, from hypotheses development to communication of results. Scholars work with their faculty mentors to select projects and to refine their hypotheses and experimental designs.

"Even though they are undergraduate students, accepted scholars are expected to take graduate courses, interact with graduate students, participate in weekly journal clubs and lab meetings, attend scientific conferences and seminars, and present their research findings," Hardin said. "The goal is not simply to be admitted into a competitive graduate program but to succeed in that environment."

Garcia has mentored PREP scholars for seven years and said scientists also benefit from the program.

"Everybody has a different perspective, and part of our perspective is who we are and where we come from," Garcia said. "The more eyes you get in the lab and the more people thinking about a problem, the better off science is. Diversity broadens my horizons and makes me a better scientist."

MU's 2013-2014 scholars are Edelio Bazan, Gilbert Encarnacion Cortes, Wanda Figueroa-Cuilan, Angela Lovett, Jerry Steward, Charles Washington III, and Patricka Williams-Simon. For more about the PREP program, visit http://www.prepscholars.missouri.edu/. The Division of Biological Sciences is located in the College of Arts and Science. The Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology is a joint effort by MU's College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; College of Human Environmental Sciences; and School of Medicine.
-end-


University of Missouri-Columbia

Related Diversity Articles from Brightsurf:

More plant diversity, less pesticides
Increasing plant diversity enhances the natural control of insect herbivory in grasslands.

Insect diversity boosted by combination of crop diversity and semi-natural habitats
To enhance the number of beneficial insect species in agricultural land, preserving semi-natural habitats and promoting crop diversity are both needed, according to new research published in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied of Ecology.

Ethnolinguistic diversity slows down urban growth
Where various ethnic groups live together, cities grow at a slower rate.

Protecting scientific diversity
The COVID-19 pandemic means that scientists face great challenges because they have to reorient, interrupt or even cancel research and teaching.

Cultural diversity in chimpanzees
Termite fishing by chimpanzees was thought to occur in only two forms with one or multiple tools, from either above-ground or underground termite nests.

Bursts of diversity in the gut microbiota
The diversity of bacteria in the human gut is an important biomarker of health, influences multiple diseases, such as obesity and inflammatory bowel diseases and affects various treatments.

Underestimated chemical diversity
An international team of researchers has conducted a global review of all registered industrial chemicals: some 350,000 different substances are produced and traded around the world -- well in excess of the 100,000 reached in previous estimates.

New world map of fish genetic diversity
An international research team from ETH Zurich and French universities has studied genetic diversity among fish around the world for the first time.

Biological diversity as a factor of production
Can the biodiversity of ecosystems be considered a factor of production?

Fungal diversity and its relationship to the future of forests
Stanford researchers predict that climate change will reduce the diversity of symbiotic fungi that help trees grow.

Read More: Diversity News and Diversity Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.