Xavier University received a $19.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health as part of the national Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) Initiative. The historically Black university will use the grant to expand its biomedical programs.
“Xavier is already number one in the nation as the primary undergraduate source of African American Ph.D.s in the life sciences,” said Dr. Norman Francis, president of Xavier University. “Yet, with this grant, we believe we can triple the number of these graduates and increase the number of African American life science Ph.D.s nationally by 10%. We are proud that NIH has named us one of the institutions that it believes can uniquely contribute to this important goal.”
The award is part of a $240 million NIH investment involving more than 10 institutions to develop new approaches to engage student researchers, including those from underrepresented backgrounds, and prepare them to thrive in the NIH-funded workforce. Xavier and fellow awardees will establish a national consortium to train, mentor and encourage students from underrepresented groups to enter into and stay in research careers.
“These awards represent a significant step towards ensuring that NIH’s future biomedical research workforce will reflect the unique perspectives found within the diverse composition of our society,” said Dr. Hannah Valantine, NIH chief officer for scientific workforce diversity.
“Participation in faculty research projects is a major reason for Xavier’s success in graduating STEM [science, technology and engineering] students, many of whom go on to get the Ph.D.,” said Dr. Gene D’Amour, the university’s principal investigator for the grant. “Working with our partner research universities across the nation, this NIH grant will greatly increase the opportunities for our students to become even more actively engaged in cutting-edge research and to go on to get life science Ph.D.s.”
Xavier will serve as the primary institution for its grant, “Project PATHWAY: Building Integrated Pathways to Independence for Diverse Biomedical Researchers.” It has partnered with Johns Hopkins University, Emory University, the Louisiana State University and its Health Science Center, Tulane University, The University of Wisconsin, Meharry Medical College, George Washington University, Penn State University, the University of Rochester and the University of California San Francisco.