Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1998-1999 index

Distributed September 16, 1998
Contact: Scott Turner

Howard Hughes Medical Institute

$1.4-million grant strengthens undergrad biological sciences education

A four-year $1.4-million grant to Brown from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute will support a broad range of education and research programs in the biological sciences, from new courses to new equipment.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Brown University received $1.4 million today (Wednesday, Sept. 16, 1998) from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to broaden undergraduate access to opportunities in the biological sciences.

The four-year award funds the Undergraduate Biological Science Education Program. It will be used to support research opportunities, produce new science courses, modernize equipment and technology, and fund outreach programs to students and faculty from other universities.

The grant will help Brown introduce two new undergraduate courses in biomedical technology and computational biology. The award will allow the University to buy state-of-the-art equipment for biochemistry, chemistry and computational biology, as well as for the University's multidisciplinary laboratory, where nearly all lab courses in biology and medicine are taught.

In addition, Brown will continue a transition-to-graduate-school summer program that brings undergraduates from historically black colleges to the Brown campus. Participants learn about and conduct research through a mentoring network of faculty sponsors, seminars, symposia and exposure to national scientific societies and professional employment opportunities. This program will be conducted with the Leadership Alliance, a consortium of 25 universities working to boost diversity in the sciences.

The award will also underwrite Brown's ongoing Minority Faculty Exchange Program, which brings four faculty from historically black colleges to the University every year for research and academic opportunities.

Finally, the grant will allow the University to maintain five programs that pair undergraduates with faculty mentors to conduct research during the academic year and during the summer.

Since 1989, Brown has received three HHMI grants, which have helped biology become the University's most popular undergraduate concentration. The funding has allowed Brown to affiliate with Xavier, Spellman, Tougaloo and Morehouse colleges for early identification of students interested in the biological sciences. In 1996, the first student identified through the program completed her doctorate degree in pathobiology at Brown. Twenty-five percent of the University's current M.D./Ph.D. students are program graduates.

"Undergraduate biology education is very strong at Brown and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute has recognized that with the awarding of this grant," said Peter Shank, director of the Undergraduate Biological Science Education Program. Shank is also professor of medical science and an associate dean of medicine and biological sciences.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) awarded a total of $91.1 million in four-year grants today to help 58 universities. The grants bring the total to more than $425 million awarded since 1988 through HHMI's undergraduate grants program, the largest private initiative in U.S. history to enhance undergraduate science education nationwide.

The undergraduate program is the largest of HHMI's grants initiative. Altogether, HHMI has awarded more than $700 million in grants since 1988, primarily to enhance science education at all levels within the United States. More information is available on HHMI's Web site, Information on the biological sciences at Brown is available on the Web site,