Morgan State University was recently awarded a $23.3 million competitive grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that will go towards developing new approaches to engage researchers, with an eye to attracting more minority students to biomedical fields.
“While past efforts to diversify our workforce have had significant impact on individuals, we have not made substantial progress in supporting diversity,” said NIH Director Francis Collins in a statement. “This program will test new models of training and mentoring so we can ultimately attract the best minds from all groups to biomedical research.”
The grant is part of $31 million in fiscal year 2014 funds awarded to 12 institutions to implement a five-year program meant to attract and support the success of underrepresented researchers in the biomedical arena. Morgan’s award was the second largest competitive award in its history and the highest from the NIH.
“Morgan has a very good track record of enhancing diversity in the sciences in Maryland and around the country and this is the goal of the NIH initiative,” said university President David Wilson in a statement. “We believe that winning this competitive award is recognition by NIH and others that the best way to bring more minorities into the sciences is with best practices, programs that work. And Morgan has surely proven that it has the ability to show how it is done.”
Morgan State intends to use this award to support ASCEND or “A Student Centered Entrepreneurship Development” training model. The research training will help promote and equip students with the idea of finding creative ways to propose their research topic, provide students with the opportunity to develop creative research methods, write grants and develop entrepreneurial skills in the science field.
The university also plans to strengthen its “training and research infrastructure, create Active Learning Centers, improve science curricula and acquire state-of-the-art educational technology, all aimed at providing a highly enhanced training in science and biomedical research,” according to a university press release.
About $2.9 million of the grant will be spent in the first year of the project and more than $5 million will be used for each of the remaining four years.