Health Science Center receives $1.66 million to increase diversity in neurosciences

SAN ANTONIO (Sept. 24, 2010) — The National Institutes of Health (NIH) today announced the awarding of a $1.66 million grant to the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio to encourage individuals of diverse backgrounds to seek doctoral degrees in the neurosciences.

Lead investigators on the grant are Alan Frazer, Ph.D., professor and chairman of pharmacology, and David Weiss, Ph.D., professor and chairman of physiology. Both departments are in the Health Science Center’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

The goal is to reach students who are traditionally underrepresented in the neurosciences, including those coming from low socioeconomic status and those with disabilities. “This grant targets undergraduates, allowing us to bring them into labs and ultimately to guide them into doctoral programs,” Dr. Frazer said. “Not enough minorities are doing research in this country on neuro-oriented disease.”

The Health Science Center is partnering in this endeavor with five undergraduate institutions: St. Mary’s University, Trinity University, the University of the Incarnate Word, Our Lady of the Lake University and The University of Texas at San Antonio.

The Health Science Center is one of five recipients of the grants, which are being coordinated by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences as part of NIH’s “Blueprint for Enhancing Neuroscience Diversity through Undergraduate Research Education Experiences” (BP-ENDURE).

“By forming strong collaborations between institutions, these programs will maximize the impact of limited resources while fostering participation and diversity in neuroscience research,” said Alberto Rivera-Rentas, Ph.D., a neurobiologist who oversees this and other training programs at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. “We expect that these partnerships will serve as models for future NIH initiatives designed to increase diversity in the biomedical workforce.”

The NIH announcement also stated: “This new program connects research-intensive institutions to institutions that have substantial enrollments of neuroscience majors from traditionally underrepresented groups. The program will support a range of activities to increase student interest in the neurosciences, including research experiences, curriculum development, seminars and journal clubs.”

The NIH components funding BP-ENDURE awards are the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the NIH Office of the Director, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Center for Research Resources and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 3 percent of all institutions worldwide receiving National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. Research and other sponsored program activity totaled a record $259 million in fiscal year 2009. The university’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced approximately 26,000 graduates. The $739 million operating budget supports eight campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit www.uthscsa.edu.



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