Undergraduate scholars in the NE-INBRE program will now have more mentors to choose from when picking a lab to learn in thanks to a newly formed partnership with the Great Plains IDeA-Clinical Translational Research Network.
Through this endeavor, the Great Plains IDeA-CTR will fund up to two INBRE scholars who will spend their time in the program working with CTR researchers during their first summer of the two-year program. Thereafter, they will conduct research on their home campus (UNL or UNK) for their junior and senior years.
"This will give our INBRE students the opportunity to see if they would be interested in clinical-translational research," said Paul Sorgen, Ph.D., director of the NE-INBRE program.
The Great Plains IDeA-CTR Network was formed in 2016 following the receipt of a five-year research grant from the National Institutes of Health totaling nearly $20 million, said Ted Mikuls, M.D., director of the professional development core for the Great Plains IDeA-CTR.
The professional development core, co-led by Dr. Mikuls and Lani Zimmerman, Ph.D., a professor in the UNMC College of Nursing, focuses on developing early career researchers into independent scientists by increasing the infrastructure and other resources needed to support mentoring and early career development for clinical and translational research from around the region.
It dovetails nicely with the mission of NE-INBRE, said Dr. Sorgen, which is to build a biomedical research pipeline for undergraduate students by establishing a culture of research at undergraduate campuses and enhancing the research capacity on those campuses.
"We hope this experience will provide a "spark" for a career in this area of science," he said.
The CTR program allows IDeA states to develop infrastructure and capacity to conduct clinical and translational research on diseases that are prevalent in their population. It is designed to focus on meeting the needs of unique populations such as rural and medically underserved communities.
The IDeA-CTR program increases the competitiveness of investigators by supporting faculty development and research infrastructure. It further provides for mentoring and career development activities in clinical and translational research.
Dr. Mikuls said the partnership is a win-win.
"We help expand the menu of research INBRE scholars can choose from and at the same time this provides a platform to help young faculty investigators transition into a mentorship role as well," he said.