Undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty members came from all over the country to attend the second Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS), held November 13–16 in New Orleans, LA.
The conference brought together MORE program participants, academic
administrators, grant officials, and other members of the scientific community
to hear research presentations; attend professional development workshops,
poster sessions, and exhibits; and network with each other. The meeting also
marked the special occasion of the 40th anniversary of NIGMS and the 30th
anniversary of the Institute’s Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC)
and Minority Biomedical Research Support (MBRS) programs.
The anniversary events began with a panel discussion by two Nobel laureates
and a scientist who has been described as a potential laureate in the future.
Dr. Thomas R. Cech of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Dr. Alfred
G. Gilman of The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas
discussed their Nobel-winning research and encouraged students to pursue
research opportunities. Dr. Erich Jarvis of Duke University, an up-and-coming
scientist who participated in the MARC and MBRS programs as an undergraduate
student at the City University of New York, Hunter College,
described his research on vocal learning in birds. Jarvis’ honors include the
prestigious Waterman Award from the National Science Foundation in 2002.
Jarvis also participated in a panel discussion on the scientific accomplishments
and career pathways of MARC and MBRS alumni. The other speakers
were Dr. Juliette Bell of Fayetteville State University, Dr. Luis Haro of the
University of Texas at San Antonio, Dr. Yolanda Sanchez of the University
of Cincinnati, Dr. Michael Anderson of The Johns Hopkins University, and
Dr. Scottie Henderson of the University of Arizona.
Dr. Clifton Poodry, director of the MORE
Division, said “The recognition of the contributions
of Geraldine Woods, with her family as
guests in the audience, was very moving for me.”
“If it weren’t for the efforts of Dr. Woods and her colleagues, NIGMS’ minority programs wouldn’t be the success that they are today. I am proud we could honor such important individuals as we marked the 30th anniversary of MARC and MBRS,” he added.
More information on the 2003 ABRCMS meeting, which will be held
October 15–18 in San Diego, CA, can be found on the ABRCMS meeting
Web site at http://www.abrcms.org.
The panelists shared their experiences and offered their advice to students.
Haro discussed the path that led him to a science career. Born into a family
of migrant farm workers, he explained that he was the first in his family to
attend college. He realized that he wanted to become a scientist while he was
an undergraduate student participating in the MBRS program at the University
of California, San Diego (UCSD).
Anderson stressed the importance of having a
mentor and emphasized that this was the most
critical factor in helping him achieve his career
goals. He urged students to find mentors who have
their best interests at heart and told the students
that mentors “don’t necessarily have to look like
you” to do this.
The anniversary activities concluded with a
banquet marking the 30th anniversary of the
MARC and MBRS programs. In the keynote
address, the Honorable Louis Stokes, a strong
supporter of the programs during his tenure as
a Congressman from Ohio, noted the importance
of honoring the efforts of the individuals who
helped create these programs. Stokes particularly
commended the hard work of the late Dr. Geraldine
Pittman Woods, who played a pivotal role in the
development of several NIH minority programs,
particularly MARC and MBRS.
Stokes also urged students to help others in
need. He encouraged the students to remember
that, as far back as 30 years ago when the MARC
and MBRS programs were developed, people were
working to help underrepresented minority students
pursue biomedical research careers.
“You have the same obligation…to not only
achieve your career and do it with excellence, but
also at the proper point to reach back and help
pull someone else up.”
Dr. Marian Johnson-Thompson, director of
education and biomedical research development
at the National Institute of Environmental Health
Sciences, paid further tribute to Woods, who was
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