Grant to help disadvantaged students pursue medical careers

The Medical College of Wisconsin has received a $1.1 million grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute for a program to boost the number of minorities, disabled persons and low income individuals who pursue careers in the health care industry.

A similar program has been financed by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute for the past 15 years, but

this year, funding increased and the Medical College was able to add six

spots, making the program open to 20 student participants.

Fourteen of those spots will go to undergraduates and six to current medical students, according to Toranj Marphetia, spokesman for the Medical College.

The students are recruited from within the University of Wisconsin system and other universities known to have a diverse student body and are from populations typically underrepresented in biomedical fields including low income individuals, minorities and disabled persons.

The program, called the Summer Research Program to Increase Diversity in Health-Related Research, started in May and will end in July.

During the 10 weeks, students work as part of a research team. They have the opportunity to collaborate with Medical College faculty to develop research skills and will attend weekly seminars on health career topics.

Most of the research conducted will be in cardiovascular, pulmonary, hematology or sleep investigation areas.

At the end of the session, students will have the chance to present their research and will receive mentoring for possible futures in medical school and biomedical careers. If eligible, they have the opportunity to apply for a second year in the program and could further their first year’s research the following summer.

Kenneth Simons, M.D., is the senior associate dean of academic affairs and professor of ophthalmology and pathology and is one of the key researchers for the grant.

“The goal is to work one-on-one with each student to help them map out a plan for advancing to the next step on their academic path and providing them with the tools they need to get there,” Simons said.

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