OGAPS and Six Biomedical Sciences Graduate Programs Win $1.2M Diversity Grant

COLLEGE STATION, Feb. 13, 2020 – Six academic programs and the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies (OGAPS) at Texas A&M University have been awarded a five-year, $1.2M grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences—one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—to enhance diversity in biomedical sciences.

This grant will establish the new Texas A&M Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity (IMSD), which focuses on recruitment, retention, and professional training for students from underrepresented populations in biomedical sciences Ph.D. programs. The NIH grant will fund six pre-doctoral trainees in their first year of graduate study in Medical Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Genetics, Toxicology, Biochemistry & Biophysics, and Biomedical Engineering; the University will double the impact of the grant by matching the NIH support to fund six additional trainees.

Texas A&M’s graduate programs currently rank in the top 10 and top 12, respectively, for Ph.D.’s awarded to Hispanic and African American students.

“This grant boosts efforts at Texas A&M to increase external funding for graduate training programs and expands our commitment to inclusion as an engine of academic excellence,” said Dr. Carol A. Fierke, provost and executive vice president. “The recruitment and support of an outstanding cohort of doctoral students is essential for maintaining and growing the university’s research portfolio. Inclusivity is among our highest institutional priorities. Winning this grant generates the kind of internal and external investment that enables us to build on our success.”

Texas A&M’s IMSD will be led by the Principal Investigator, Dr. Karen Butler-Purry, and OGAPS, alongside an executive committee of faculty from the six participating programs: Dr. Candice Brinkmeyer-Langford, Dr. Weihsueh A. Chiu, Dr. Roland R. Kaunas, Dr. Ivan Rusyn, Dr. Dorothy E. Shippen, and Dr. David Threadgill. Rounding out the leadership team is a group of 40 outstanding investigators from biomedical sciences academic programs who have strong records of mentoring underrepresented trainees and obtaining competitive funding support from federal, state and other sources. Additional advisory support will be provided by biomedical sciences industry leaders and educators.

IMSD’s objective is to build an inclusive community of scholars in biomedical sciences. Recruitment efforts will focus on students from underrepresented groups at a wide range of undergraduate institutions and diversity fairs. Once enrolled, students will enter a personalized program that combines instruction, research, mentoring, and aspects of career development. The program will connect students with externships through a broad network of academic laboratories, state and federal governmental agencies, and industry and non-governmental organizations, where they can gain professional training and establish career-building relationships.

“We are pleased to receive support from the NIH for this new initiative to develop a diverse and supportive training environment for graduate students in biomedical fields at Texas A&M,” says Dr. Butler-Purry, associate provost for Graduate and Professional Studies. “This funding will support student
success for graduate researchers and scholars and amplify our efforts to help them forge successful careers after graduation.”

By Rob Dixon, Texas A&M University Office of Graduate and Professional Studies

Media contact:
• Rob Dixon, Texas A&M University Office of Graduate and Professional Studies, 979.845.3631, rdixon@tamu.edu.

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