Current Issue
Spring 2014
BMM Current Issue
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University Diversity
BioMed invests in the demographics of tomorrow, today.
Associate Dean of Graduate and Post- Doctoral Studies Nancy Thompson and Associate Professor of Medicine Andrew G. Campbell have been awarded the 2009 Harriet W. Sheridan Award and Medal for Distinguished Contributions to Teaching and Learning. They are co-directors of the NIH’s Initiative to Maximize Student Development (IMSD), a predoctoral research program that aspires to increase the number of PhDs from groups traditionally underrepresented in biomedical and behavioral research. Brown Medicine recently caught up with Campbell.

Why is diversity in the sciences so important?

This is a good question. Graduate training programs in the Division of Biology and Medicine invest in students with the expectation that they’ll go on to advance fundamental scientific knowledge that impacts science and technology, pharmaceutical practices and productivity, and the practice of health care. U.S. demographics are changing, and thus the range of individuals that graduate programs invest in must also change—this is diversity from a practical perspective, not a social justice perspective. Accepting the value of diversity practices is an investment in our future. To do otherwise would result in an under-staffed future scientific workforce that could not pursue science the way that we need, a scientific workforce that is not globally competitive, and a society of diminished production capacity, creativity, and education.

How many other universities received the IMSD grant?

There are 42 IMSD programs across the United States. Putting that into context, there are approximately 1,400 certified institutions in the U.S. that grant BS, MA/MS, MD/PhD and/or PhD degrees. All could and should have an IMSD program. I think that puts Brown among a very select group.

What are the results so far?

There are two measures of results. One is resource expansion created by the program and broader recognition for the program across the Brown community. The other is the increase in diversity as measured by more underrepresented minority students in BioMed graduate programs. IMSD has been very successful in both areas. Participation in IMSD activities [by students of all backgrounds] has grown each year since the program started. And prior to the start of IMSD, about 12 percent of our students came from underrepresented minority groups. Today, that number stands at about 21 percent.

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