CLEMSON — The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced Tuesday that Clemson University is part of the Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) consortium with The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) to increase diversity in the NIH-funded workforce.

BUILD is a set of experimental training awards designed to learn how to attract students from diverse backgrounds into the biomedical research workforce and encourage them to become future contributors to the NIH-funded research enterprise.

Clemson will provide minority students a summer research experience to enhance students’ understanding and expertise in biomedicine.

“We are thrilled to be a collaborating partner with UTEP,” said Clemson bioengineering professor Naren Vyavahare. “This funding allows us to launch a summer research institute that offers a unique, didactic experience where students from UTEP will be hosted at Clemson over a period of 10 weeks.”

This unique interdisciplinary program will integrate education and research in the field of biomaterials and regenerative medicine from concept to clinical application, with a focus on cardiovascular and nervous systems.

“While past efforts to diversify our workforce have had significant impact on individuals, we have not made substantial progress in supporting diversity,” said Francis S. Collins, NIH director. “This program will test new models of training and mentoring so that we can ultimately attract the best minds from all groups to biomedical research.”

Students will work with investigators at Clemson’s NIH-funded Center of Biomedical Research Excellence, the South Carolina Bioengineering Center of Regeneration and Formation of Tissues.

They will also participate in hands-on workshops that focus on experimental techniques used in biomaterials research, such as electron microscopy, hard tissue histotechnology, tissue procurement for cell culture, profilometry, surface spectroscopy, immunohistochemistry, mechanical testing, and rapid prototyping and soft tissue printing.

“Communications skills will be fostered through presentations and a final symposium highlighting the research conducted by the students,” Vyavahare said. “Moreover, our bioengineering faculty will develop approaches to training and mentoring, drawing from social science research suggesting effective interventions to encourage students from underrepresented groups to enter into and stay in research careers.”

NIH plans to invest approximately $240 million over five years, pending availability of funds, to develop new approaches that engage researchers, including those from backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical sciences, and prepare them to thrive in the NIH-funded workforce.

“These awards represent a significant step towards ensuring that NIH’s future biomedical research workforce will reflect the unique perspectives found within the diverse composition of our society,” said Hannah Valantine, NIH chief officer for scientific workforce diversity.

“Furthermore, we will offer preferred admission into Clemson’s doctoral bioengineering program to students who have successfully completed the program and invite them to participate in the bioengineering fellowship rotations,” said Vyavahare.

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Clemson University
Ranked No. 20 among national public universities, Clemson University is a major, land-grant, science- and engineering-oriented research university that maintains a strong commitment to teaching and student success. Clemson is an inclusive, student-centered community characterized by high academic standards, a culture of collaboration, school spirit and a competitive drive to excel.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)
NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.