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13.7 million grant will diversify faculty biomedical research workforce at Tuskegee University and UAB

November 10, 2021

Photo of a male and female in lab using microscope.
The partnership between Tuskegee and UAB will build a
community of scientists committed to inclusive excellence.

Contact: Kawana McGough, Office of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing

Tuskegee University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham received a $13.7 million grant to hire and train 12 new research faculty members across both institutions. The grant will help recruit and train 12 new research faculty members across both institutions to create systemic and sustainable culture change.

Under the NIH Common Fund’s Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) partnership, the grant will further support the two institutions in building a self-reinforcing community of scientists by recruiting a critical mass of early-career faculty who have a demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion.  

“Tuskegee University and UAB have longstanding and productive partnerships in research and the development of faculty scientists,” Tuskegee President Charlotte P. Morris said. “This NIH FIRST grant is an excellent opportunity to build on our years of work together. Tuskegee is the first HBCU selected by NIH to receive this funding, and we are excited to be a part of this important initiative to nurture a culture of inclusive excellence among the faculty at both our institutions while helping ensure the success of a new generation of researchers.”  

The program also seeks to positively impact faculty development, retention, progression, and eventual promotion and develop inclusive and sustainable environments. The NIH recognizes that fostering inclusive environments in the biomedical research workforce ensures that the most creative minds have the opportunity to contribute to national research and health goals.  

Dr. Clayton Yates seated at desk.
Clayton Yates, Ph.D. Principal Investigator.

“This is an incalculable opportunity to attract and recruit faculty from underrepresented populations and fully support their growth to become independent scientists,” said Clayton Yates, Ph.D., Director for the Center for Biomedical Research and the Principal Investigator at Tuskegee for this award.  

“We are proud to continue our partnership with Tuskegee University in this endeavor to build a community of scientists committed to inclusive excellence by recruiting early-career faculty committed to promoting diversity and inclusion while addressing health disparities,” said UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine Dean and Senior Vice President for Medicine Selwyn Vickers, M.D.  

The program will be designated as Benjamin-Carver Scientists in honor of two barrier-breaking investigator leaders — 18th U.S. Surgeon General and Heersink School of Medicine alumna Regina Benjamin, M.D., and research scientist, Tuskegee faculty member, and humanitarian George Washington Carver. The researchers will be hired to represent areas of research strength and opportunity across both institutions, including cancer, obesity and diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and neuroscience.  

The newly recruited scientists will be surrounded by a comprehensive support infrastructure, including sponsors, mentors, career coaches, institutional research navigators, and professional development opportunities to accelerate the development of collaborative networks and peer support.

Other Tuskegee University faculty include Temesgen Samuels, Ph.D., the Associate Dean for the School of Veterinary Medicine, and the Faculty Development Core leader. In addition, Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Heshmat Aglan Ph.D., Vice President for Research Shaik Jeelani Ph.D., will serve on the internal advisory board.  

The recruitment for the 12 new faculty members will begin in Fall 2022.  

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