The Hampton University Department of Biological Sciences has been awarded a five year $1.5 million dollar grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund the Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) program at Hampton University. This program addresses the need to reduce the disparity in the number of individuals from underrepresented backgrounds in biomedical research careers and therefore addresses the needs for the U.S. to remain optimally competitive and productive in the 21st century.
Under the leadership of Dr. Cecile Andraos-Selim, associate professor of biology at Hampton University and MARC Program Director, the goal of the MARC program at Hampton University is to increase the number of well-prepared underrepresented students who matriculate into high caliber Ph.D. or combined M.D.-Ph.D. programs in the biomedical sciences and eventually go on to research careers. The HU MARC faculty team includes Dr. Michelle Penn-Marshall, Chair of Biological Sciences; Dr. Luisel RicksSanti, Director of HU Cancer Research Center; Dr. Barbara Abraham, Associate Professor of Biology; Dr. Indu Sharma, Assistant Professor of Biology; Dr. Michelle Waddell, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Dr. Arun Verma, Chair of Mathematics.
“The NIH has a vested interest in the success of these students,” said Andraos-Selim. “It will assist these students in becoming distinguished biomedical scientists. This program is about opening doors for the students and not just funding.”
The long-term goal of this program is to prepare HU graduates to be leaders in biomedical research by improving their preparation for Ph.D. programs. The program is broken into two parts, based on students classification.
The Pre-MARC program is designed for freshman and sophomore students interested in research careers, it develops their critical thinking, problem solving, quantitative reasoning and research and communication skills.
The MARC scholarship program offers the MARC trainees a 24-month period interdisciplinary curriculum beginning June 1 of their junior year. During this two year period, MARC scholars receive partial tuition and fees support and a monthly stipend. The MARC scholarship also cover the students’ participation in academic year and summer research experiences in funded laboratories and their attendance at scientific conferences.
“Currently we have two junior students participating in summer research through the MARC program,” said Andraos-Selim. “Courtney Edwards works at Duke University on translational regulation of the anti-apoptotic protein, XIAP, in inflammatory breast cancer.and Krystal Roggerson works at University in Virginia on “the effect of Arginine deficiency on IFN-γ expression.”
Students majoring in biology, biochemistry, mathematics, computer sciences, physics or chemical engineering are eligible to apply for the Pre-MARC and MARC programs.