An IUPUI program that assists students from marginalized populations in pursuing biomedical and behavioral science careers received a $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health on Feb. 14. This grant will keep it funded through its 15th year.
The IUPUI Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program, or IPREP, has supported 51 students, including six who are currently in the program.
The self-proclaimed long-term goal of IPREP is to improve diversity among graduate students and faculty for biomedical and behavioral science doctoral programs at IUPUI. This large grant will push it to continue helping students in this way.
Students who enroll at IUPUI as IPREP fellows get access to an intensive research internship and 12 months of paid research experience with faculty research mentors.
Of the 45 students who already completed the program, 91% have been admitted to doctoral or master’s programs. One of these students is 2016 IPREP Fellow Shaquitta Dent.
Dent received a bachelor's degree in biology and biological sciences from Stillman College in 2015. She then pursued a Master of Science in kinesiology at IUPUI while under IPREP. She is now completing her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Chicago in kinesiology and nutrition.
She is also a graduate research assistant at IUPUI, with research interests in biomechanics targeting amputee populations.
Dent said she is confident about her decision to become an IPREP fellow.
“Zero regrets whatsoever. I’ve met some great people,” Dent said. “I’ve learned a lot. I’ve had the opportunities to even expand on those projects in my master's program.”
Dent said she would not have been able to succeed as much without the IPREP program.
“IPREP helped me find which route was best for me in pursuing a Ph.D.,” Dent said. “They help set you on what path is best for you with experience and guidance.”
Director of IPREP Rafael E. Bahamonde thanked the NIH for its support in providing minority students with larger opportunities.
“IU’s campuses — as well as the broader academic community — benefit from the injection of greater diversity in the faculty and professional ranks, along with the infusion of talent and fresh thinking this brings to these disciplines,” Bahamonde said.
IPREP will prepare students for careers in six areas over the next five years: basic medical sciences, clinical psychology, neuroscience (including addiction neuroscience), human performance, biomedical engineering and artificial intelligence, Bahamonde said.