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College of Human Ecology

NIH Grant to K-State a bridge to future for minorities in biomedical sciences field

Thursday, October 12, 2006

MANHATTAN - A partnership between Kansas State University and several Kansas community colleges to increase the number of underrepresented minorities pursuing degrees in the biomedical sciences at four-year institutions has been renewed for another three years.

Kansas Bridges to the Future is a research training grant funded by the National Institutes of Health. It partners K-State with Seward County, Dodge City, Garden City and Kansas City Kansas community colleges and Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kan., in a grassroots effort to identify, mentor and guide minority students with potential for biomedical science careers.

Denis Medeiros, head of K-State's department of human nutrition, is the grant's principal investigator. Medeiros wrote the grant after establishing the partnership with the five schools during the last three years. More than 20 minority students have transferred to K-State since the program began in 2003, with more students in the pipeline.

"We proposed a grassroots effort beginning at the community college level to develop biomedical career awareness, enhance the academic preparation skills of selected Bridges' students, seek parental involvement, and devote resources to the community colleges to allow for sufficient academic advisement of these students," Medeiros said. "The overall goal is to increase the number of Kansas minority students pursuing graduate degrees in the biomedical field."

Medeiros said the schools participating in the partnership were selected because their enrollments reflect the diverse population in their parts of Kansas: Seward County, Garden City and Dodge City community colleges have high enrollments of Hispanic students, while Donnelly College and Kansas City Kansas Community College each have a high percentage of African-American students enrolled. "Many of the community colleges are the first choice of underrepresented minorities in pursuing their higher education goals," Medeiros said. "Many of these students are the first in their families to go to college."

Students identified for the Bridges program receive dual admission to the community college and K-State, with tuition waivers. The students attend a one-week summer institute to make them more aware of scientific investigation and opportunities after their freshman year.

After the second year in the program, the students will have the opportunity to work for eight weeks at K-State in the laboratory of a scientific investigator. Community college instructors also will be given an opportunity to work at a K-State laboratory for an eight-week summer period to help bridge gaps in research training and curriculum development. All students will be prepared in a rigorous foundation of science, chemistry and math, Medeiros said.

The students who come to K-State also take part in the Developing Scholars Program and continue their mentoring with a professor. Other K-State faculty involved with the project include Anita Cortez, co-director of the Developing Scholars Program, and Farrell Webb, associate professor of family studies and human services and associate director of the Developing Scholars Program.

This article was posted on Thursday, October 12, 2006, and is filed under College News, Food, Nutrition, Dietetics and Health.