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Best Practices

Brown University

A new program at Brown University has significantly improved the recruitment and performance of underrepresented minority students in nine of its life science doctoral programs. Established four years ago, the Initiative to Maximize Student Development (IMSD) has resulted in increased applications, admissions, enrollments, test scores, grades and scientific publications and presentations among minority students in the Brown University Graduate School. Funded by a grant from the National Institute for General Medical Sciences of the NIH, this innovative program was designed to create a more diverse student body by forging partnerships with undergraduate institutions with large populations of underrepresented minorities in the sciences. These undergraduate schools included York College, St. John’s University, North Carolina A&T State University, and the College of Mount Saint Vincent. Through the IMSD, Brown faculty engage undergraduate students about their research areas of interest, career aspirations, and expectations. Directed by Dr. Andrew Campbell and Dr. Elizabeth Harrington, the IMSD program educates undergraduate underrepresented minority students about educational and career options available beyond their local communities and encourages them to consider applying to Brown for graduate school. Faculty members developed mini-courses to train and mentor students to build the skills needed for doctoral programs. The IMSD resulted in increased enrollment of life science doctoral students from underrepresented minority groups from 17% in 2007-2008 to 23% in 2011-2012. While the national average for underrepresented minority students in life science doctoral programs in 2011-2012 was one in ten, the Brown Graduate School average was one in five. The success of Brown University’s IMSD program provides evidence that the implementation of key practices by graduate science training programs can translate to increased diversity and student achievement in the sciences. These practices are generalizable, and if applied elsewhere could lead to measurable advances in the representation of racial, ethnic, and other disadvantaged individuals in the scientific workforce.

Program Improves Ph.D. Student Diversity

Biomed Initiative to Maximize Student Development


This page last updated: December 29, 2014

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