Hox proteins

Summer Research Program receives NIH funding

Grant will allow 50 underrepresented minority undergraduates from the Texas A&M University System to participate in biomedical research projects
October 20, 2020

Brett Mitchell, PhD, FAHA, professor in the Department of Medical Physiology at the Texas A&M University College of Medicine, has been recently awarded an R25 grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) for the Texas A&M College of Medicine, entitled “Developing and Readying Underrepresented Minority Researchers (DRUMR) Summer Research Program (SRP).”

Directed currently by Mitchell, the Summer Research Program has been a vital part of the Texas A&M research enterprise for the past 12 years. The 10-week program gives undergraduate students—including students from minority and underrepresented populations and/or originating from underserved regions of Texas from any institution—the opportunity to participate in a research project and laboratory work by working closely with Texas A&M College of Medicine faculty.

Specifically, this grant will provide paid research opportunities to 50 underrepresented minority undergraduates (“DRUMRs”) from the Texas A&M University System and will allow them to work with faculty members in Bryan-College Station on NIDDK-related biomedical research projects as part of the larger SRP. The R25 grant will allow the DRUMR program to accept 10 applicants each year for five years. The Texas A&M University System contains a network of 11 campuses with an enrollment of more than 152,000 students.

“We are so grateful for this opportunity to lead a program that can impact underrepresented minority and disadvantaged students that may not have opportunities like this,” Mitchell said. “Our goal is to help increase the minority population in Texas’ biomedical research workforce so it more accurately reflects the state’s population diversity. The funding from this grant will give disadvantaged and minority undergraduate students the opportunity to become successful researchers and strong applicants for graduate and medical schools.”

“The SRP has provided amazing opportunities to students of diverse backgrounds for laboratory research with the COM research faculty, postdocs and graduate students,” said Hubert Amrein, PhD, executive associate dean of research at the College of Medicine. “By providing this opportunity, the College of Medicine has been able to recruit some of the very best students to our PhD and MD programs. This grant award is a well-deserved recognition of the hard work that Dr. Mitchell and his predecessor, Dr. Zimmer, have put into this program for many years.”

The DRUMRs will not only learn about research, they will also gain personal and professional skills that will set them up for a successful future in the medical sciences. Additionally, they will develop a strong network with other DRUMR participants, SRP participants and College of Medicine, Southwest Rural Health Research Center and Texas A&M Rural and Community Health Institute experts.

“We have a strong history of serving underrepresented minority candidates in this program and anticipate these new partnerships will increase our ability to develop a cadre of investigators from underrepresented communities, including racial and ethnic minorities, first-generation college students and those from rural backgrounds,” said Amy Waer, MD, FACS, interim dean of the College of Medicine.

— Gracie Blackwell

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