Comparative Medicine Institute Receives NIH Grant for Preparing Underrepresented Undergraduates for the Biomedical Sciences

NC State’s Comparative Medicine Institute (CMI) has received a five-year training award — worth over $1 million — from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The CMI is an interdisciplinary institute that provides a competitive environment for innovative research and student training, with a priority in multidisciplinary collaboration and team science. The training award represents a collaboration between the College of Engineering, the College of Sciences, the College of Veterinary Medicine, the University Honors program and the TRIO program at NC State.

The award, entitled U-TEAM: Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Training in Comparative Biomedical Research, meets a strong need to prepare highly qualified underrepresented (UR) undergraduates for Ph.D. or MD/Ph.D. programs. At present, most training programs of this nature still rely on traditional single-discipline training. The U-TEAM program combines the strengths of the CMI, a university-wide biomedical institute with members from multiple colleges, and the University Honors Program in order to train the next generation of UR biomedical scientists in a rigorous inter- or transdisciplinary environment. 

“This is a great example of a university-wide program with faculty from multiple colleges coming together through the CMI to develop a unique training program for undergraduate students,” says Jorge Piedrahita, director of the CMI and principal investigator of the award.

This distinctive program exposes students to the unique skills required to carry on team science. The enrolled undergraduates are provided the opportunity for rigorous, hands-on research mentoring in inter- or transdisciplinary sciences. They are also exposed to a number of professional development activities — including career and academic advising, seminar series, preparation for oral and in-poster presentations, workshops on scientific communication, an introduction to existing graduate opportunities at NC State and partner institution UNC-Chapel Hill, and assistance with applying to graduate school. 

Combined, this training program prepares students for a successful transition to graduate and professional training in the biomedical sciences.

“This program will not only bolster our efforts to attract top UR students to NC State, it will propel collaborative research programs across campus through the team-science approach of the CMI,” says Joshua Pierce, co-PI of the award and associate director of the CMI.