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Kean University

Kean Receives Prestigious $1.37M Federal Grant to Increase Diversity in Biomedical Sciences

A Kean student researcher and a faculty member working in the lab

Kean University received a $1.37 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that will create a pathway to train a diverse group of undergraduate STEM students in cutting-edge biomedical research.

The Kean U-RISE Trainee Pathway (KUTP) will enroll its first students in the Fall, beginning a five-year program to prepare highly-talented, diverse young scientists for futures in biomedical research careers.

“The program is significant because it is the first of its kind at Kean University to specifically focus on and have students commit to pursuing an advanced degree in biomedical science,” said Associate Dean for Research Derrick Swinton, Ph.D., of The Dorothy and George Hennings College of Science, Mathematics and Technology at Kean. 

“The overarching goals of the KUTP will be to train undergraduates in research excellence, build a diverse cohort of students who strongly identify as STEM scientists, and prepare them for the next phase of the biomedical research career pathway,” he said.

Kean’s KUTP undergraduate fellows will be recruited from among the University’s biology, biomedicine, biotechnology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, and integrated science programs – disciplines that include some 2,100 students, over half of whom are members of groups underrepresented in the sciences. 

The undergraduate fellows must be members of ethnic or racial groups underrepresented in biomedical science, or come from a disadvantaged background. They are expected to be Kean seniors, juniors or sophomores.

Students must also commit to pursuing a Ph.D. in a biomedical research field.

Kean University is raising its research profile, pursuing designation as an R2 research institution. Additionally, as New Jersey’s urban research university, Kean actively works to recruit, support and retain students from underserved communities and backgrounds. 

“Grants such as this NIH award allow us to support a broader range of research projects, fostering innovation and interdisciplinary collaboration at Kean University," said Kean Vice President for Research Susannah Porterfield, Ed.D. “Diversifying our external funding sources enhances our financial stability as a University and a research institution.”

The first four KUTP undergraduate fellows will begin in the Fall semester, with the goal of maintaining a steady number of eight students in the program each year, Swinton said.

In addition to rigorous academic and research-skills training, the new crop of KUTP Fellows will receive financial support; attentive research mentoring; enhanced seminars on ethics and other research professionalization topics; and support in transitioning to graduate school and the biomedical workforce.

The NIH encourages institutions to diversify their student and faculty populations to enhance the participation of individuals from groups that are underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral and social sciences.

“Research shows that diverse teams working together and capitalizing on innovative ideas and distinct perspectives outperform homogenous teams,” read an NIH statement on diversity. “Scientists and trainees from diverse backgrounds and life experiences bring different perspectives, creativity, and individual enterprise to address complex scientific problems. There are many benefits that flow from a diverse NIH-supported scientific workforce.”

For more information, visit the program website