California State University, Northridge has received more than $1.3 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for two innovative programs that encourage students from underrepresented communities to consider careers as biomedical researchers.
The university received $606,130, the third installment of a five-year grant, for its Minority Access Research Careers Undergrad Science Training and Academic Research (MARC U*STAR) program, which is designed to provide mentors to minority students and give them the research experience to compete at the graduate level. The money targets students in majors relating to the biomedical fields, including biology, chemistry, mathematics, psychology, kinesiology and environmental sciences.
CSUN also received $723,860, the second installment of a five-year grant, for its Minority Biomedical Research Support Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (MBRS RISE) program. The MBRS RISE program supports 20 undergraduate and six graduate students each year as they are mentored by and conduct research alongside faculty in Cal State Northridge’s Colleges of Science and Mathematics; Health and Human Development; and Social and Behavioral Sciences.
The continuation of these grants adds to Northridge’s reputation as a leader in the efforts to build and diversify the nation’s scientific ranks.
“We’re very grateful for the continuation of the support provided by the NIH,” said CSUN biology professor MariaElena Zavala, director of the MARC and MBRS RISE programs. “Not only do these grants support the students directly, but they also provide an opportunity to have institutional impact as we develop and shape courses to ensure that the students have the tools they need to succeed.”
The MARC U*STAR program started in 1990 at Cal State Northridge. Its goal is to increase the number of competitively prepared traditionally underrepresented minority students for research careers in the biomedical sciences. It offers students an opportunity to participate in on-campus, long-term research projects. They also receive mentoring, research support, graduate school preparation support and a stipend to travel to scientific conferences to present their research results.
Since the program’s inception, Zavala said, all of the CSUN student participants have presented the results of their research at regional, national and international scientific conferences. All MARC students who entered Ph.D. programs have also been awarded five-year fellowships to complete their academic pursuits.
MBRS RISE started at Cal State Northridge in 1993. The federal program is designed to increase the number of students from underrepresented communities who go on to complete Ph.D. programs in biomedical and behavioral research fields.
The program is open to undergraduate students who have completed their first freshman semester and have a GPA of at least 2.8. It does not support students whose professional goals are to become clinicians, such as doctors or dentists.
Once accepted, students are paired with a mentoring faculty member who guides and supports them as they matriculate through the program. At first, students are assisting the faculty member with his or her research. Students eventually conduct their own research and are expected to present their findings at professional conferences. The students spend at least one summer working on a project with researchers at another academic institution.
California State University, Northridge is a regionally focused, nationally recognized university serving more than 34,000 full- and part-time students in the San Fernando Valley and surrounding areas. Founded in 1958, Cal State Northridge is among the largest universities in the nation and is ranked among the top universities for bachelor’s degrees awarded to minority students. It has nine colleges and more than 2,000 faculty members who teach courses leading to bachelor’s degrees in 69 disciplines, master’s degrees in 58 fields and doctorates in education and physical therapy, as well as 28 teaching credential programs. Continuously evolving and changing to meet the needs of California and the nation at large, the university is home to dozens of acclaimed programs where students gain valuable hands-on experience working alongside faculty and industry professionals, whether in the sciences, health care and engineering or education, political science, the arts and the social sciences.