Initiative for Maximizing Student Development Grant Program

Initiative for Maximizing Student Development Grant Program students 2021

About the Grant Program

The IMSD grant program is designed to increase the participation of under-represented groups in the biomedical sciences.

IMSD scholars receive the following benefits from the grant program:

  1. Payment of tuition, fees, and health insurance by the grant for a period of at least 12 months (after that your financial support will come from one or more other sources).
  2. Financial support for travel to colleges or universities for the purpose of presenting your research.
  3. Ability to obtain essential career development tools to assist you with the transition to the next career step after the Ph.D. by attending professional development workshops.
  4. Gaining knowledge about issues pertaining to diversity and how to enhance diversity in the scientific community.

IMSD by the numbers:

  • 57 scholars supported by the grant
  • 32 scholars obtained a Ph.D. degree
  • 7 students obtained an MS degree
  • 12 students currently in training
  • 10 obtained significant individual NIH or other foundation funding while a graduate student
  • Career choices include 23% to industry, 3% to non-profit organizations, 40% to academia, 10% to the government, and 23% to other/further training

To apply for a position on this grant, you must be a Ph.D. student of any race or ethnicity (U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident) who has shown a strong commitment to enhancing diversity or who is a member of a group that is under-represented in biomedical and biobehavioral research. These include:

  • Individuals from racial and ethnic groups that have been shown to be under-represented in doctoral-level health-related sciences on a national basis
  • Individuals with disabilities, who are defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, or from disadvantaged backgrounds

The components of the program include:

  1. Monthly professional development meetings
  2. Travel to conferences and alumni institutions to present your work
  3. Serving as a Graduate Student Advisor to a summer undergraduate research participant and a new Ph.D. graduate student once you have completed the first year of the Ph.D. program
  4. Working with an IMSD Mentoring Committee member to ensure progress through graduate school and preparation for post-doctoral career plans
  5. Social Activities

Request more information about the grant program

For more information contact:

Brad Elwood
Assistant Director of Training Programs

Dr. Cynthia Wright, Ph.D.

Dr Cynthia Wright

IMSD Director

Associate Dean of Admissions & Career Development

Dr. Wright received a BS in Microbiology from the University of Florida and a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the State University of New York at Albany. She ran an independent research lab for over 15 years, studying transcriptional regulation in yeast and viral systems and the dysregulation of transcription in cancer. In 2006, she accepted an opportunity to assume an administrative role in the College of Graduate Studies at MUSC, where she is currently the Associate Dean for Admissions and Career Development. At present, she is the PI or coPI on three NIH-funded training grants whose goal is to increase diversity in the biomedical workforce by implementing interventions that help students choose and persist in careers in science. She became a member of the AAMC GREAT group Ph.D. Outreach Committee in 2014 and has enjoyed working with her colleagues to bring workshops and webinars to students with strategies for how to succeed in applying to graduate schools in the biomedical sciences. 

Dr. Catrina Robinson, Ph.D.

Catrina Robinson

IMSD Co-Director

Associate Professor, Department of Neurology

Dr. Robinson earned a B.S. in Laboratory Technology and a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Auburn University. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan. She transitioned into a junior faculty position at the University of Michigan. After obtaining a career transition K01 award, Dr. Robinson joined the Department of Neurology at MUSC as a tenure-track Assistant Professor. She is currently an R01-funded investigator studying the impact of metabolic disorders on both normal and pathological brain aging. The primary research goal of the laboratory is to focus on mechanisms linking metabolic disorders to impaired cognitive function, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke-induced vascular contributions to cognitive impairment, and dementia (VCID) in order to develop novel therapeutic strategies to combat disease onset and progression. Dr. Robinson is passionate about and committed to mentoring and training the next generation of scientists.