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UWF awarded a nearly $1.7 million grant to train biomedical students

“We are excited to receive an additional five years of funding for a cumulative 15 years of NIH funding,” said Dr. Karen Molek, chair and professor in the Department of Chemistry. “This funding ensures that our students succeed at the highest levels nationally. U-RISE Scholars replaces the 10-year NIH-funded MARC Scholars program. The funding provides students with the financial support to retire 30-40 hours per week and a “village” of support, including staff, peer mentors, UWF faculty and external faculty from graduate programs. Together, our goal is to provide students with the resources, time and opportunities to fulfill their academic potential and excel professionally and personally beyond UWF.”

The U-RISE program supports high-achieving junior and senior students from disadvantaged backgrounds who are pursuing a Ph.D. or M.D.-Ph.D. degree and a research career in a biomedically relevant field. The scholarship provides students with the opportunity to participate in biomedical research with UWF faculty mentors and external faculty mentors in Ph.D. or M.D.-Ph.D. programs, giving them a competitive advantage when applying to graduate school.

“This funding removes barriers for students and literally changes their career prospects,” said Dr. Alexis Janosik, associate professor and graduate coordinator in the Department of Biology at UWF. “Many students would not otherwise have had these opportunities, and this funding makes them competitive for the best graduate programs.”

Students in the U-RISE program receive tuition assistance, a $14,000 annual stipend, research opportunities, individual mentoring and guidance on how to make themselves competitive for graduate school, assistance in building their curriculum vitae with technical and professional skills, and building their career network. Four students were selected for the inaugural class beginning in June.

The U-RISE program replaces the Maximizing Access to Research Careers, or MARC, Scholars program at UWF. The MARC Scholars program, along with the U-RISE program, promotes retention.

Since 2014, 34 MARC Scholars have been accepted into UWF’s program. 93% of MARC Scholars graduated with a BS degree in biology, chemistry, mechanical engineering and/or physics. 80% of MARC Scholar graduates have applied for a Ph.D. or M.D.-Ph.D. programs, while others have enrolled in other programs or entered directly into the biomedical workforce. The last group of MARC scientists will graduate in May 2025.

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