REBUILDetroit, a joint program of the University of Detroit Mercy and Wayne State University that encourages undergraduate students from underrepresented or economically disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue careers in biomedical research, has received a five-year renewal grant of more than $19 million from the National Institutes of Health.
The UDM-WSU partnership was originally supported by a $21.1 million grant in 2014. In this next phase, Henry Ford College in Dearborn has joined the partnership to create pathways for students to transfer from community college to complete four-year college degrees in STEM at UDM or WSU and eventually join graduate programs in biomedical-related fields.
The first phase of the grant significantly impacted student retention rates, with most BUILD scholars graduating in four years with a STEM major.
“This renewal allows us to build upon the impactful interventions we implemented during the first round of funding and continue to implement institutional change to sustain this impact beyond grant funding,” says Katherine Snyder, dean of UDM’s Detroit College of Engineering and Science and the contact principal investigator for the grant.
The majority of the new five-year, $19.4 million renewal will provide scholarships and stipends for students enrolled in the program. Prior to starting in college as freshmen, ReBUILDetroit scholars experience the excitement of scientific discovery through direct participation in research, peer and faculty mentoring, and cohort-building activities. They also attend lectures and presentations by guest speakers and engage in professional development while preparing for graduate school and career paths in in-demand biomedical disciplines.
Ashok Kumar, associate dean of WSU Graduate School and co-principal investigator, says, “Buoyed by our initial successes, our goal is to continue enriching the college experience of our ReBUILDetroit scholars, helping them graduate in STEM disciplines, and stimulating their interest in biomedical research using multiple approaches.
“We envisioned that by introducing these young people to biomedical career opportunities, we can ultimately increase the diversity of faculty members in STEM fields. Although we want to ensure that our future generations will thrive in a diverse academic environment, if we do not fill the pipeline at the undergraduate level, we cannot expect to recruit more diverse faculty.”
Students who enroll in this program receive a number of benefits, including
- Tuition scholarships.
- Paid, faculty-mentored research.
- Extensive mentoring by faculty and peers in and outside the classroom.
- Curriculum support and programming to prepare them for graduate studies.
- Networking opportunities with the scientific research community.
- Opportunities to present research at national conferences.