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SBU Wins $1.4 Million NIH Grant to Support Underrepresented Undergrad and Doctoral Researchers

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SBU Wins $1.4 Million NIH Grant to Support Underrepresented Undergrad and Doctoral Researchers

The fifth high visibility award won by CIE, totaling $8.5 million in funds and support for 165 students and postdoctoral scholars


Top row left to right: Nina Maung-Gaona (Co-Principal Investigator), Alexandria DellaPenna (IMSD Undergraduate Student), Kellon Belfon (IMSD Graduate Student), Andreyah Pope (IMSD Graduate Student), Sarah Georges (IMSD Undergraduate Student), Dr. Angel Gonzalez (Program Manager), Kathryne Piazzola (CIE Administrator)

Bottom row, left to right: Dominic Moronta (IMSD Graduate Student), 
Dr. David Ferguson (Co-Principal Investigator), 
Jinelle Wint (IMSD Graduate Student), Dr. J. Peter Gergen (Principal Investigator and Project Director}, Maryam Ige (IMSD Undergraduate Student), Denise Laspina (IMSD Undergraduate Student), Chantal Adlam (IMSD Graduate Student), Toni Sperzel (CIE Program Manager)

STONY BROOK, N.Y., August 29, 2014Stony Brook University’s (SBU) Center for Inclusive Education (CIE) has been awarded a $1.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for its Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) program. The grant will help increase the number of underrepresented individuals completing undergraduate and doctoral degrees in the biomedical sciences, further supporting SBU’s efforts in expanding and diversifying its undergrad and graduate programs. This grant marks the fifth high visibility, and competitive, award received by the CIE totaling $8.5 million in funds and support for 165 students and postdoctoral scholars.

“The center’s receipt of this $1.4 million grant from the NIH is indicative of their success in integrating research, education and professional development for underrepresented students in the biomedical sciences, “ said Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dennis N. Assanis. “It will further enable us to provide the programming and resources necessary for these students to transition through the pipeline and, working with our world-renowned faculty, foster the inter-generational transmission of knowledge and skills needed for ground-breaking research and discovery.”

The IMSD project had been named MERGE: Maximizing Excellence in Research and Graduate Education (IMSD-MERGE). Over the next five years IMSD-MERGE will provide direct financial support to 50 scholars in the biomedical sciences: 25 undergraduates and 25 doctoral fellows. In addition to this direct research support, IMSD-MERGE will provide more broadly accessible academic enrichment services, constructive mentoring experiences, and rigorous professional development to SBU’s academic community. IMSD-MERGE welcomed its first cohort of 10 scholars this summer.

“The IMSD-MERGE program brings to Stony Brook innovative initiatives that will fortify efforts already underway to address critical junctures in student’s educational experiences. IMSD-MERGE will bolster student’s confidence, capacity, and comprehension of the research endeavor to prepare them for careers as research scholars and faculty,” said Dr. Peter Gergen, Professor of Biochemistry and Director of Undergraduate Biology who is the Principal Investigator and Project Director of IMSD MERGE. 

IMSD-MERGE will introduce several new efforts at SBU including:

  • A Summer Heads Up Program for incoming students to help prepare them for courses required of their programs. The two-week immersion program offers activities that demand critical reading of scientific literature.
  • A Bio-Math learning center for undergraduate students to provide academic enrichment support to freshman and sophomore biomedical science majors and bolster their proficiency in their calculus prerequisite courses.
  • Entering Mentoring workshop for undergraduates, graduates, and faculty. They will participate in workshop sessions developing their communication skills, listening ability, and mentoring capacities.

“What sets IMSD-MERGE apart from other projects at Stony Brook is its dual focus on advancing the research and academic talents of both undergraduate and graduate students,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD. “With IMSD-MERGE, we are truly reaching across the campus community, including students and faculty alike, giving everyone opportunities to strengthen their skills as scholars, researchers, and mentors.”

Nina Maung-Gaona, CIE Director and Assistant Dean for Diversity in the Graduate School, as well as Co-Principal Investigator on the project adds, “With the ISMD-MERGE project, the CIE is both enhancing the quality of support it provides to our graduate scholars and expanding our community to include a larger number underrepresented researchers at the undergraduate level. By connecting these two, often separated campus groups, we are strengthening the transformative research relationships between students and faculty and creating a seamless pipeline.”

As mentioned, this grant is one of five received by the CIE that help increase the competitiveness and progression of the underrepresented scholars. Other grants include a five-year $

3.3 million grant from the NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)

and a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation

For more information visit the Center for Inclusive Education website:


Reporter Contact: 
Alida Almonte
University Media Relations Manager

Follow us on Twitter @sbunewsdesk

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