- Associated Press - Saturday, October 25, 2014

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - The University of Alaska Fairbanks has landed a $23.8 million federal grant to attract rural Alaskans to careers in biomedical research.

The five-year award from the National Institutes of Health will fund the program, which will be established at UAF and nine rural Alaska campuses. The effort is part of a nationwide $240 million NIH program to boost diversity in biomedical fields.

Specific details are still being developed for the program, which will include partnerships with Ilisagvik College in Barrow and smaller University of Alaska campuses in Southeast Alaska, Western Alaska and the Aleutians.

The goal is to attract a broader range of students to biomedical careers, including fields of human, animal and environmental health. Biomedicine careers include jobs such as lab technician, public health worker and researcher.

Diversity efforts in biomedicine have lagged behind other occupations, said Barbara Taylor, an associate professor of neurobiology at UAF. Taylor and two other UAF researchers - veterinary microbiology associate professor Karsten Hueffer and Department of Veterinary Medicine associate dean Arleigh Reynolds - will lead the project.

“Our aim is to open the gateway so that rural students will have the opportunity to participate in biomedical sciences,” Taylor said.

Taylor said UAF is already a leader in biomedical research, including NIH-funded programs on infectious diseases and Alaska Native health. The grant funding will establish new approaches to attract more diverse students to biomedicine, including new models for training and mentoring. Scholarships, workshops, seminars and funding to improve biomedical facilities at partner institutions also will be included.

The program will be developed in communities with significant Alaska Native populations, but it will serve anyone at those campuses, Taylor said.

It’s the second large NIH grant that UAF has received in recent months. In August, an $18.8 million grant renewal was approved for the Center for Alaska Native Health Research and the Institutional Development Award Network of Biomedical Research Excellence.


Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com



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