$1.4 million grant to fund LSU health research pipeline


New Orleans, LA – The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) has awarded LSU Health New Orleans a $1.4 million grant over five years to prepare individuals from backgrounds underrepresented in the biomedical sciences to earn either a PhD or MD/PhD degree. The grant was awarded through the Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP), and LSU Health New Orleans is the only Louisiana university and one of only three in the Gulf Coast region to successfully compete for this type of grant.

According to the National Institutes of Health, PREP provides support for participants to work as apprentice scientists in a mentor's laboratory. This program is expected to strengthen the research skills and academic competitiveness of participants for pursuit of a PhD degree in the biomedical sciences after completion of the one-year program. Grants are made to research-intensive institutions to support research experiences and courses for skills development.

"We aim to enhance the diversity of the biomedical research workforce by preparing PREP Scholars for the rigors and challenges of a biomedical doctoral degree program so that they can successfully obtain a PhD degree or MD/PhD degree and contribute their expertise to the biomedical scientific community," notes Principal Investigator and PREP Director Lisa Harrison-Bernard, PhD, Associate Professor of Physiology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine.

LSU Health New Orleans will provide PREP participants with hands-on exposure to medical research, advanced courses and workshops to develop scholarly potential to prepare them for graduate school admissions, successful degree completion and careers in biomedical research.

The program will be executed by a strong leadership team, which also includes Co-Directors Allison Augustus-Wallace, PhD, and Fern Tsien, PhD; Program Coordinator Flavia Souza-Smith, PhD; and Program Administrator: Betsy Giaimo. Other keys to the program's success include 55 dedicated faculty research mentors, the institutional advisory council, external advisory council, scholar recruitment contacts at nearby universities, and external consultants.

"The LSU Health New Orleans PREP will become the regional hub for advancing the educational opportunities for students from groups underrepresented in the biomedical sciences," adds Dr. Harrison-Bernard.

LSU Health New Orleans' proposal received recognition for "the highly qualified leadership team and advisory board, a large pool of excellent research mentors, and a well-conceived program that provides scholars with intensive research experiences and graduate record examination preparation, comprehensive professional skills development, and mentoring, and the high likelihood that the proposed PREP would have a significant impact on the numbers of underrepresented PhD biomedical graduates, both from LSU Health New Orleans and nationally."


LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans educates the majority of Louisiana's health care professionals. The state's most comprehensive health sciences university, LSU Health New Orleans includes a School of Medicine, the state's only School of Dentistry, Louisiana's only public School of Public Health, and Schools of Allied Health Professions, Nursing, and Graduate Studies. LSU Health New Orleans faculty take care of patients in public and private hospitals and clinics throughout the region. In the vanguard of biosciences research, LSU Health New Orleans generates jobs and enormous economic impact. Faculty have made lifesaving discoveries and continue to work to prevent, advance treatment, or cure disease. To learn more, visit http://www.lsuhsc.edu, http://www.twitter.com/LSUHealthNO or http://www.facebook.com/LSUHSC.

Media Contact

Leslie Capo
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