The McAllister Heart Institute received “Institutional Award for Undergraduate Student Training” by the American Heart Association. The $165K award will fund five summer researchers annually.
The American Heart Association selected the McAllister Heart Institute’s proposal for their “Institutional Award for Undergraduate Student Training” program. This creates a new three year summer program called MHI SUMMER: McAllister Heart Institute’s Summer Undergraduate Mentoring and Meaningful Experiences in Research. The $165K award will fund five summer researchers annually, including attending the AHA Basic Cardiovascular Sciences Scientific Sessions.
The grant proposal was spearheaded by Jonathan Schisler, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology, and prepared under the leadership of research associate, Rebekah Sanchez-Hodge, in collaboration with past and present undergraduates in the Schisler lab and MHI contracts & grants facilitator, Tracy Stone.
“As cardiovascular researchers, one of our most essential responsibilities is to function as mentors and offer opportunities to inspire impactful careers regardless of race, ancestry, sex, gender, or socioeconomic background,” said Schisler. “One of the most effective mechanisms to promote equity in research careers is undergraduate summer programs focused on underrepresented students.”
For the past six years, the McAllister Heart Institute has provided research environments for over 100 undergraduates from diverse backgrounds, many of whom matriculated to STEM careers, graduate school, or medical school. To inspire underrepresented students toward careers in cardiovascular research, the summer program was designed to encompass research, mentoring, and career development, along with mechanisms to ensure the program’s long-term success.
Schisler serves as program director and Becky Sanchez is program coordinator. The partnering labs are led by Jimena Giudice, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology; Vicki Bautch, PhD, the Beverly Long Chapin Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biology in the UNC College of Arts & Sciences; Edward Bahnson, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology; and Brian Jensen, MD, associate professor of medicine and pharmacology in the Division of Cardiology in the Department of Medicine.
The advisory committee includes Li Qian, PhD, associate director of the McAllister Heart Institute and associate professor in the Department of Pathology and Lab Medicine; Leon Coleman, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology; and Chris Mack, PhD, professor in the Department of Pathology and Lab Medicine.
The program is also partnering with Delores Grant, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Biotechnology from North Carolina Central University, to provide opportunities for students to strengthen their academic skills, research confidence, and interest in cardiovascular science.