$6.4 Million NIH Grants Help UTEP Students Pursue Biomedical Research Careers
Last Updated on August 04, 2022 at 12:00 AM
Originally published August 04, 2022
By MC Staff
UTEP Marketing and Communications
Support includes monthly stipends, tuition and fees for up to three years
EL PASO, Texas (Aug. 4, 2022) – The National Institutes of Health (NIH) - National Institute of General Medical Sciences awarded two grants to The University of Texas at El Paso to help put minority students and students with disabilities from undergraduates to doctoral candidates on the path to become future biomedical researchers.
The grants will fund two five-year programs – the $3.8 million Undergraduate Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (U-RISE) and the $2.6 million Graduate Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (G-RISE). U-RISE enrolled 25 students and G-RISE registered eight this summer.
The programs are open to students pursuing biomedical degrees. Each offers monthly stipends as well as tuition and fees support for up to three years. The programs provide additional funds for research travel and supplies.
Renato Aguilera, Ph.D., professor of biological sciences, directs both programs.
“We’re producing high-level, well trained biomedical researchers that other universities are eager to attract,” said Aguilera, who has directed research-training programs for more than 25 years.
Program leaders reached out to students interested in chemistry, biology, psychology, biochemistry and biomedical engineering.
Each U-RISE participant will work under a faculty mentor for an academic year to develop the necessary skills, interests, knowledge and enthusiasm to become a competitive candidate for biomedical sciences doctoral degree programs. Participants will work at UTEP during the fall and spring semesters and will have the option to continue to work at UTEP in the summer or to work at another institution’s research lab at least once during their tenure with U-RISE.
Among them is Julio H. Rangel, a senior biochemistry major. The El Paso native and first-generation college student said his goal is to be an astrobiologist with NASA.
“Having the security of being able to pay my bills on time changes my state of mind and helps me be more concentrated on my research and my courses,” said Rangel, the father of two young sons. “I hope that next year I can become part of G-RISE as a Ph.D. student.”
The goal of G-RISE is to increase the number of underrepresented minority students in biomedical doctoral programs who can then transition to careers as biomedical researchers. Trainees will participate in research at least 20 hours per week through the academic year.
Jessica R. Dirmeyer is one of the eight participating in G-RISE. She started her doctoral studies in biological sciences at UTEP in fall 2021.
“This summer, upon learning of my acceptance to the program, I was thrilled,” Dirmeyer said. “I look forward to joining my fellow recipients in participating in and taking full advantage of all opportunities provided by the program and continuing to work toward reaching my full potential as a scientist and researcher.”
The co-director of the G-RISE and U-RISE programs is Wen-Yee Lee, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry. The other G-RISE and U-RISE co-directors are Elizabeth Walsh, Ph.D., professor of biological sciences, and Anita Quintana, Ph.D., associate professor of biological sciences, respectively.
About The University of Texas at El Paso
The University of Texas at El Paso is America’s leading Hispanic-serving university. Located at the westernmost tip of Texas, where three states and two countries converge along the Rio Grande, 84% of our more than 24,000 students are Hispanic, and half are the first in their families to go to college. UTEP offers 169 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs at the only open-access, top-tier research university in America.