The Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICATS) at UConn has been selected to take part in a new NIH initiative, Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD), designed to enhance diversity in the biomedical research field. The initiative’s goal is attracting minority students to the STEM workforce and encouraging them to become future contributors to the NIH-funded research enterprise.
Part of a multi-institution consortium led by the University of Texas at El Paso tasked with developing these new opportunities, CICATS was invited to contribute to the grant because of its successful track record in creating pipeline programs such as the Young Innovative Investigator Program (YIIP) and the M1 Mentorship Program. As a major contributor and recipient of a BUILD award, CICATS will oversee the execution of the program here at UConn.
Correcting the imbalance of STEM workforce requires advances in research, engineering, and medicine, community outreach and changes to public policy. CICATS’ goal is bringing the necessary change makers together through the BUILD award to help facilitate the exchange of ideas and collaborations across multiple disciplines.
On October 7th, the Anti-Defamation League presented the Torch of Liberty Award to Mr. Max Javit and me. The award recognizes individuals who demonstrate an exceptional commitment to community, justice, and equal opportunity for all. I was deeply honored and humbled to receive it.
The ADL was founded in 1913 to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Now one of the nation’s premier civil rights/human relations agencies, it fights anti-semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals, and protects civil rights for all. I am very pleased to be associated with the ADL and its membership. It is an amazing organization.
In early September, I was honored to be named one of ten scientists chosen to receive a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s Pioneer Award. The Pioneer Award funds innovative research proposals which attack challenging biomedical problems. Established ten years ago, this award encourages the kind of forward-looking research scientists once complained was difficult to find funding for under the traditional NIH grant structure. It is designed to support “a small number of investigators of exceptional creativity who propose bold and highly innovative new research approaches that have the potential to produce a major impact” in the fields of biomedicine and behavioral research, according to the NIH. I am grateful to receive this award from among such a competitive group. It will allow us the intellectual freedom and resources to develop a brand new technology. If successfully implemented, the technology will impact many disciplines of biomedical research, including biomaterials development, regenerative engineering, developmental biology, drug delivery, and stem cell biology.