Shekinah Fashaw, a second-year doctoral student at Brown University’s School of Public Health, participated in Leadership Alliance National Symposium's career development workshop for graduate students the summer of 2017. Photo by Steven Laschever

Date April 26, 2019
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National Institutes of Health awards $2.7M to Leadership Alliance

The funds will support expanded mentorship of biomedical science students and junior researchers from historically underrepresented groups through the Brown-based Leadership Alliance.

PROVIDENCE, R.I.[Brown University] — The National Institutes of Health has awarded a $2.7 million grant to the Leadership Alliance, a Brown University-based consortium of 35 leading research and teaching institutions that works to train, mentor and inspire students from diverse backgrounds to pursue research careers. 

The grant provides funding for five years of expanded programming at the annual Leadership Alliance National Symposium and for the expansion of the organization’s Academic Year Workshop Program. In creating additional mentorship opportunities, the grant will support biomedical science scholars ranging from first-year undergraduates to junior faculty from groups that have been historically underrepresented in academia. 

“If we want to be able to address health disparities in different communities, then we need people from those communities who are able understand the situation and come up with innovative ideas to address the issues,” said Medeva Ghee, executive director of the Leadership Alliance and an assistant professor of the practice at Brown. “Diversity is essential to ensuring the competitiveness of our country and the wellbeing of our society."

The grant will enable the Alliance to expand its work with undergraduates during the academic year through workshops that introduce first-year students to scientific research careers, key research skills and the value of having a diverse research workforce. 

These workshops are a collaboration among Brown, Morehouse College, Spelman College, Vanderbilt University and the University of Chicago, and the sessions will be available to students at institutions across the nation, beyond Leader Alliance institutions.

Also with support from the grant, the organization’s annual symposium will feature expanded programming to increase the competitiveness and career readiness of undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and even junior faculty from historically underrepresented groups.

Over the next five years, nearly 500 undergraduates who attend the annual event to present their summer research will receive mentoring on applying to graduate programs and research careers. Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows will receive one-on-one mentoring on their curriculum vitae or resumes as well as insight into a variety of research careers during a career development workshop.

Junior faculty from minority-serving institutions will hone their grant writing skills with coaches. Specifically, they will meet in small groups with experienced faculty members to get tips to increase their research grants’ competitiveness for national proposals. The coaching groups will continue to meet virtually until the junior faculty have submitted grants. The NIH grant will double the number of junior faculty mentored through the program each year from six to approximately 12. 

“The resources invested in this project will pay dividends over the next five years through increased support for underrepresented scholars at each stage of the academic pathway, who are poised to diversify the biomedical research workforce,” Ghee said.

The Leadership Alliance is a Brown-based academic consortium comprising 35 research, teaching and minority-serving institutions that identifies, trains and mentors underrepresented students and has propelled more than 3,000 participants to research careers through its signature summer research program and other initiatives.

The project is supported by the National Institutes of Health through the Innovative Programs to Enhance Research Training funding program under grant number R25GM125707.