UW News

May 27, 2010

UW Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity receives $2.2 million grant

The UW Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity (IMSD) program has received a four-year, $2.2 million renewal grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Now in its 11th year, the UW IMSD program’s objective is to increase the numbers of minority students from the UW graduating in the target bioscience areas and matriculating into graduate, biomedical doctoral and medical/doctoral programs.

“The IMSD program is critical to national and local efforts to increase the participation of under-represented students in biomedical research. We need these students’ creativity and unique experiences to ensure we are capturing the full potential of all of our society as we address the major health challenges that face us,” said Pat Stayton, UW professor of bioengineering and principal investigator on the grant. The project’s co-principal investigator is Beth Traxler, UW associate professor of microbiology.

IMSD is a 10-week program in the summer (June 21 –August 27) and nine months during the academic year. Program activities include academic counseling, planning and course sequencing, comprehensive academic support, preparation for paid academic year and summer research internships, scholarships to attend, present and network at national research conferences, and support to compete for performance-based merit scholarships.

“The IMSD program has brought together a wonderful staff and the expertise of the Office of Minority Affairs to create a sustainable education model that integrates curricular assistance and undergraduate research experiences to motivate the students toward advanced graduate study and biomedical careers,” Stayton said. “These are incredible students who are showing how this unique UW program can produce real leaders and it is an honor to work with them!”

The UW program has been highly successful in facilitating the inclusion of under-represented university students in bioscience research fields, such as biochemistry, biology and microbiology.

Teri Ward, IMSD program director, credits the program’s success to “hundreds of UW faculty and staff” who support students in achieving their educational goals in the sciences.

“One significant highlight of these collaborations during the last funding period was the publication of 61 co-authored articles in peer-reviewed, scientific journals by IMSD student scholars,” Ward said.

Since the program began in 1998, the graduation rates of IMSD fellows has grown to 74 percent and in the most recent grant cycle (2005 to 2009), 95 percent of students selected for the program have been retained. On average, less than 25 percent of URM students at the UW were granted degrees in the target majors, conversely, 44 percent of program participants have earned degrees in the targeted majors.

Alumni of the UW IMSD have earned advanced degrees in medicine, physical therapy, dental science, pharmacy and scientific research. Many are on the faculties at other universities, including Northwest Indian College, University of California-San Francisco, University of Puget Sound, University of Michigan, Drexel University, Princeton University, Boston University and Cornell University.

The UW’s program is a collaborative effort of the UW Department of Bioengineering, the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity and the UW Office of Educational Assessment.

To learn more about upcoming summer IMSD initiatives, please contact Ward at 206-221-6016.