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CHR launches program to increase access for underrepresented populations in research

People of color, those with disabilities and socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals are not well represented in the research workforce. U-RISE, an NIH funded grant, is pairing college students from historically marginalized populations with research opportunities and mentorships at multiple universities, including Cal Poly. The program is led by Drs. Sarah Keadle, PhD, and Todd Hagobian, PhD, and welcomed its inaugural U-RISE class of four students this year. The hope is these students will graduate the two-year program more prepared for graduate school in the biomedical field.

U-RISE scholars receive mentorship from a Cal Poly researcher, research experiences at Cal Poly and other institutions, coursework to prepare them for the biomedical field, and networking, seminars, and other professional development events.  The program also provides students with an income, tuition assistance, funding for travel to conferences and living costs for a summer internship at another research-intensive university.

"The U-RISE program has been a great way to expose students to research opportunities, build personal intercollegiate mentor relationships, and even provides a class on how to become a more responsible scientist,” said  Solomon Fernandez, a U-RISE student and Biomedical Engineering Major. “For example, I'm excited to use what I've learned and go to the University of Virginia over the summer to have a full-time research experience in the Peirce-Cottler lab."

As part of the program, the Center holds a seminar series on health disparities several times a year. Albert Farias, an assistant professor in the Department of Preventative Medicine at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine visited Cal Poly in March 2024 to kick off the series by sharing his research in eliminating racial/ethnic disparities in cancer. He also spoke about his personal journey of arriving to his position. Farias’ talk was open to the university, and he then met with the current U-RISE scholars.

Principal investigators are currently reviewing applications for the next cohort and hope to enroll four to five more scholars to start the program in fall 2024.

Learn more about U-RISE here: Introducing Cal Poly U-RISE

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