WSU-Detroit Mercy STEM career program gets federal grant extension

DETROIT—A joint program of the University of Detroit Mercy and Wayne State University to encourage undergraduate students from under-represented or economically disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue careers in biomedical research has been renewed by the National Institutes of Health.

The program, called ReBUILDetroit, received an initial $21.2 million NIH grant in 2014. The new grant of $19.4 million will extend the program another five years.

In this next phase, Dearborn’s Henry Ford College has joined the partnership to create pathways for students to transfer from community college to complete four-year college degrees in STEM at Detroit Mercy or WSU and eventually join graduate programs in biomedical-related fields. The first phase of the grant significantly impacted student retention rates, with most BUILD scholars graduating in four years with a STEM major.

The majority of the renewal will provide scholarships and stipends for students enrolled in the program. Prior to starting in college as freshman, participate in research, peer, and faculty mentoring and cohort building activities. They also attend lectures and presentations by guest speakers and engage in professional development while preparing for graduate school and career paths in biomedical disciplines.

Katherine Snyder, dean of Detroit Mercy’s College of Engineering & Science and the contact principal investigator for the grant, said she looks forward to helping a greater number of students who might consider biomedical fields of study.

Ashok Kumar, associate dean of WSU Graduate School and co-PI said, “Buoyed by our initial successes, our goal is to continue enriching the college experience of our ReBUILDetroit Scholars, helping them graduate in STEM disciplines and stimulating their interest in biomedical research using multiple approaches.”

Students who enroll in this program receive a number of benefits, including

  • Tuition scholarships.
  • Paid, faculty-mentored research.
  • Extensive mentoring by faculty and peers in and outside the classroom.
  • Curriculum support and programming to prepare them for graduate studies.
  • Networking opportunities with the scientific research community.
  • Opportunities to present research at national conferences.

The impact of the ReBUILDetroit program is significant and life-changing. Relicious Eboh, a 2019 graduate, said she learned about research, public health, serving others and a lot about herself during her time in the program. During her Detroit Mercy career, she conducted public health research from her first year until she graduated. On entering the university, she had her eyes set on pre-dentistry but changed her mind early in her freshman year.

“My passion for public health started when I took a class on health disparities,” she said. “I knew then that I wanted to do more people-oriented research in the area of public health and eventually become a physician. After graduation, I plan to pursue a master’s degree in public health and my ultimate goal is to combine research, public policy and medicine so we can make sure people get the public health services they need.

To learn more about ReBUILDetroit, visit http://rebuildetroit.org/ or http://eng-sci.udmercy.edu/research/rebuildetroit.php.

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