Funded by a $2.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development supports 30 students studying in the fields of biomedical and behavioral sciences.
The SDSU program, now extended through 2017, is the only one of its kind in the California State University system.
"Spanning across multiple colleges and disciplines, this intensive program prepares junior and senior-level students for competitive doctoral, research and leadership careers in the biomedical and behavioral research fields," said program director William Tong, a chemistry professor at SDSU.
Under the advisory of two of the university's distinguished researchers, students are given top-notch guidance, research and advancement opportunities.
Tong, who has been awarded major research grants from a wide range of funding agencies, has discovered and patented novel laser methods that have potential applications for earlier detection of diseases, better design of cleaner drugs and more sensitive detection of pollutants and chemicals both inside the human body and in the environment. His research projects have garnered local, national and international attention.
Sanford Bernstein, program co-director and professor of biology at SDSU, conducts both independent and collaborative research with national and international experts. He studies human cardiac and skeletalmuscle diseases and a protein important in combating muscle stress. Bernstein is a campus leader who has served as the chair, director and board member of several campus committees.
Program scholars are involved in year-round academic and professional development activities, including academic mentoring from faculty experts.
They participate in internships, scientific seminars and local and national conferences - unique research opportunities for undergraduate students.
Students apply directly to Ph.D. programs in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics as well as psychology, public health and speech language and hearing sciences.
Since 1992, the program has provided financial assistance to student researchers with diverse backgrounds. Many are first-generation college students, minorities or female students studying in a male-dominated science field.
Student to career
SDSU senior psychology major, Kristen Frosio, is Native-American and a first-generation college student. Frosio's support from the program has afforded her the opportunity to focus on research and field experience instead of working to make ends meet.