University of Maryland School of Medicine and UMBC receive first grant from National Institutes of Health to recruit new underrepresented faculty

Newswise — The University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) have been awarded a $13.7 million 5-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to advance efforts in the recruitment and training of juniors. Faculty members are from underrepresented groups in the biomedical sciences. The grant comes from the National Institutes of Health Joint Fund, and Institutional Faculty Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST)which was established last year for the purpose of supporting efforts to recruit diverse groups of faculty members at the beginning of their careers.

The funds will employ a group of six faculty members at UMSOM and four at UMBC, each of whom will have on-campus assignments at both institutions.

“Achieving diversity in early-career faculty has proven to be an ongoing challenge that we believe we can meet with the FIRST programme,” said the grant’s principal investigator. James Caper, Ph.D., James and Caroline Frenkel Distinguished Professor Dean, Vice Dean for Academic Affairs, and Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at UMSOM. “It is designed to promote sustainable cultural change and promote overall excellence by enabling us to hire a diverse pool of new faculty and support faculty development, mentoring and promotion opportunities.”

The aim of the scholarship is to build self-reinforcing communities of scholars who are committed to diversity and inclusive excellence, by hiring early-career faculty members who compete for Assistant Professor positions (or equivalent) and have a demonstrated commitment to promoting diversity and inclusive excellence. UMSOM and UMBC will determine whether these recruitment efforts and other evidence-based strategies achieve the goal of accelerating overall excellence. This will be measured by clearly defined metrics for organizational culture change, diversity and inclusion.

“As scientists, Dr. Kaper and I recognize the importance of diversity in maintaining a healthy ecosystem,” said the principal investigator. William LaCourse, Ph.D., Professor and Dean of the College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences at UMBC. “We recognize that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts when it comes to faculty diversity and the academic environment. That is why we feel it is so important to recruit, mentor, and increase access to advancement opportunities for underrepresented groups in STEM.”

New faculty members will choose to conduct research in neuroscience, cancer biology, or microbiology/immunology and infectious diseases. Dr. Caper said these areas of research are areas where schools already have real strength, so mentorship and collaboration should be easier to obtain. The scholarship will also provide funds for collective professional development to help new hires succeed.

“The dearth of STEM opportunities for minorities, people from disadvantaged backgrounds, and people with disabilities is one of our most significant challenges,” he said. Mark T. Gladwin, MDAnd the Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs at UMB and Distinguished Professor John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers and Dean of UMSOM. “This massive grant from the National Institutes of Health is a major step in helping to ensure that our faculty composition more accurately reflects the communities we serve, as we work towards our goal of becoming a magnet for diversity and social justice.”

Sandra Quezada, MD, MSc, Associate Dean for College Diversity and Inclusion and Assistant Professor of Medicine at UMSOM said, “This is an exciting opportunity to advance the diversity of our faculty, enriching the depth and breadth of mentorship programs for all of the diverse new and existing faculty members at UMSOM.”

The NIH FIRST Scholarship builds on the highly regarded UMBC’s appreciation Meyerhoff Scholars Program, which began more than 30 years ago, has resulted in UMBC being the leading college for developing underrepresented STEM recruits at the undergraduate level. UMBC is the nation’s number one product for black undergraduates who go on to complete a PhD in the natural sciences or engineering and the number one for black undergraduates completing a master’s/doctoral degree. At the same time that UMBC excels in undergraduate education, it is also ranked as one of the 146 R1 (“Very High Research Activity”) institutions in the country.

UMBC’s efforts to enhance the diversity of STEM faculty include Promise Academy And the Progressing, which has increased its STEM faculty by 70 percent at UMBC since 2003. The Pre-Professor Fellowship in the College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences offers two-year appointments to faculty as research assistant professors, with structured mentoring and other scaffolding for success. Faculty members who came to UMBC through this program in Biological Sciences, Physics, and Chemistry have been converted to career path assistant professors.

UMSOM is also the epicenter of STEM, the health sciences pipeline with the UMB CURES for middle and high school students, many summer internships and research programs for college students, and multiple postgraduate training programs that give underrepresented scholars first-hand experience in a laboratory setting.

“Between the two schools, we have a long record of diverse training opportunities and underrepresented minorities in leadership. However, there is a gap at the faculty level, in that the composition is not representative of the minority found in the general population,” said Dr. Kaper. “This scholarship will address these gaps to ensure that our university is more equitable.”

The project is funded by the National Institutes of Health Joint Fund (U54CA272205).

About the University of Maryland School of Medicine

Now in the third century, the University of Maryland College of Medicine was accredited in 1807 as the first general medical school in the United States. It continues today as one of the world’s fastest growing and highest-caliber biomedical research institutions – with 46 academic departments, centers, institutes and programs, a panel of more than 3,000 physicians, scientists, and allied health professionals, including members from the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and a two-time Distinguished Winner Albert E. Lasker Award in Medical Research. With an operating budget of more than $1.3 billion, the School of Medicine works closely in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center and the Medical System to provide extensive research, academic, and clinical care to nearly two million patients each year. The medical school has approximately $600 million in external funding, with most of its academic departments ranking highly among all medical schools in the country in research funding. As one of the seven professional schools that make up the University of Maryland, Baltimore Campus, the medical school has a population of nearly 9,000 faculty and staff members, including 2,500 students, interns, residents, and fellows. The Combined College of Medicine and Medical System (“University of Maryland Medicine”) has a budget of more than $6 billion and an economic impact of nearly $20 billion on the state and community. Faculty of Medicine, which is classified as 8 top Among the public medical schools in research productivity (according to the profile of the Association of American Medical Colleges) is an innovator in transformational medicine, with 606 active patents and 52 start-ups. In the most recent US News & World Report ranking of best medical schools, published in 2021, UM’s medical school was the Ranked #9 among 92 general medical schools In the United States, in the top 15 percent (#27) out of 192 public and private American medical schools. The School of Medicine works locally, nationally, and globally with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. visit medschool.umaryland.edu

About the University of Maryland, Baltimore County

UMBC is a leading public research university known for innovative teaching, relevant research across disciplines, and a supportive community that empowers and inspires curious minds. Serving 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students, UMBC combines the learning opportunities of a liberal arts college with the creative intensity of a leading research university. UMBC was designated an R1 (“Very High Research Activity”) institution in 2022 by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. At the same time, UMBC is one of the most comprehensive learning communities in the country, including students from more than 90 countries. UMBC also contributes to Maryland through strong government and industry partnerships that advance K-16 education, entrepreneurship, workforce training, and technology commercialization. US News & World Report Named UMBC as a national leader in both innovation and undergraduate education, UMBC’s graduate programs are recognized as one of the best in the country. Times Higher Education UMBC has been recognized as one of the top 100 young universities in the world in terms of strong research, innovation and international outlook. visit umbc.edu for more information.

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