Fisk, VU planning novel academic bridge programOct. 31, 2013, 10:17 AM
Fisk University and Vanderbilt University have begun planning for a novel academic bridge program comprising a three-year accelerated Fisk undergraduate degree, weighted toward courses in natural science, mathematics or computer science, followed by a computer science master’s degree from Fisk, bridging to a Biomedical Informatics Ph.D. from Vanderbilt.
The new program would expand the Fisk-Vanderbilt Bridge Program, established in 2004 and currently bridging Fisk masters programs to Vanderbilt Ph.D. programs in Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Materials Science.
“Perhaps because of the relative newness and interdisciplinary character of biomedical informatics, most entering undergraduates aren’t aware of the role that this field has in advancing health care and biomedical science, nor of this growing field’s tremendous need for experts and leaders,” said Fisk’s Lee Limbird, Ph.D., dean of the School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Business and interim dean for Graduate Studies.
“With this proposed training program we want to begin addressing that deficit of awareness and help fill the pipeline with talented students of color.”
The proposed program would begin enrolling students in fall 2015 at the earliest.
The planning effort will include a retreat engaging national experts in the relevant training areas. Planning is supported by an exploratory grant (type P20) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with Limbird as the grant’s principal investigator.
In six months the joint planning group will emerge with a training grant proposal. Fisk is among the nation’s leading historically black colleges and universities, and the main prospective funding source for the proposed training program is BUILD (BUilding Infrastructure Leading to Diversity), an NIH training grant program devoted to increasing the diversity of the NIH-funded workforce. BUILD also supplied the exploratory grant.
“Our hope is that this proposed program will be highly productive in terms of recruiting, nurturing and launching a more diverse group of Ph.D.s in Biomedical Informatics,” said Cynthia Gadd, Ph.D., MBA, MS, professor and vice chair for Educational Affairs in the Department of Biomedical Informatics.
According to Gadd, the training grant proposal will include plans for using information technology to make it easier for students and faculty mentors to gauge student progress and help mentors provide timely guidance to students, and it’s anticipated that these planned IT tools will eventually be adopted across the nation by academic mentors and their students.