Cal State Northridge announced Tuesday that it has received a nearly $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to support biomedical sciences students who want to eventually earn a doctorate.

The five-year grant will fund the Undergraduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement (U-RISE), which is designed to equip undergraduate students with skills that will make them more competitive for entry into graduate programs, according to the university.

The grant — which targets students from traditionally underrepresented communities, includes money to cover 60% of the students’ tuition at Cal State Northridge.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our students, who are often the first ones in their families to go to college,” said biology professor MariaElena Zavala, lead director of the program at CSUN. “In addition to the tuition help, the grant allows us to provide the students with stipends to research and attend conferences — all of which can cement a student’s decision to pursue a career in science.”

Students will also receive training on how to lead research projects, be paired with faculty mentors and work on a long-term research project. They also will attend and present at scientific conferences and participate in professional development workshops.

“We want to make sure they have everything they need so that they can hit the ground running when they get into graduate school,” Zavala said.

U-RISE is set to begin this summer with 10 students and is expected to increase to 20 students in subsequent years.

The program, administered by the NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences, is aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented scientists in biomedical research, and strengthening science curricula and research opportunities at institutions with substantial minority enrollment to prepare students for careers in biomedical research.

It replaces CSUN’s Maximizing Access to Research Careers and Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement programs, which for more than two decades helped increase the number and capabilities of underrepresented scientists engaged in basic biomedical research, according to the university.

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