WFIRM announces successful renewal of its Research Experiences for Undergraduates Site grant

The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) is thrilled to announce the successful renewal of its Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The grant, titled "Enabling Technologies and New REU Approaches to Engineer Complex Tissues" will continue to offer diverse cohorts of undergraduate students unique research, education, and professional development opportunities in the multidisciplinary field of regenerative medicine (RM) over the next three years (2023-202).

Building upon the success of its previous REU program (Award #1659663, 2018-2022), WFIRM's renewed grant has a specific focus on growing the increasing the engagement of underrepresented minority groups, women, and non-traditional students, including students attending 2- and 4-year universities. The goal is to recruit a minimum of 80% of students from these underrepresented groups each year, providing them with a chance to explore and contribute to high-priority research areas in regenerative medicine. From 2004-2021, WFIRM provided research opportunities to over 500 undergraduate students, all of whom are mentored directly by REU Faculty Mentors in an open lab environment.

We believe that WFIRM, along with our academic and industry partners, is ideally situated to introduce, new creative approaches and partnerships, building a bigger future talent pipeline to address the need for increased diversity in STEM through providing a culture where talented people from different backgrounds are welcomed, enhanced recruitment, professional development, networking opportunities, and exposure to enabling technologies and biomanufacturing and biofabrication research priorities within the field."

Joan Schanck, Chief Education Officer for WFIRM, and co-Principal Investigator of the grant

Over the course of the previous REU program, WFIRM exceeded its initial participation target of 50% for underrepresented groups, with 80% of participants coming from minority backgrounds, women, non-traditional students, and persons with disabilities. These students made significant contributions to ongoing research programs, generated new ideas, and authored conference abstracts and journal articles.

Anthony Atala, MD, Director of WFIRM and Principal Investigator for the grant expressed the Institute's commitment to diversity and equity in regenerative medicine: "The renewed REU program will build upon the lessons learned and incorporate improvements to enhance faculty mentoring, expand recruitment efforts, and reinforce passion for STEM education and careers, creating a diverse and inclusive pipeline of talent in the field of regenerative medicine."

For more information about the WFIRM REU Site and its impact on advancing diversity in STEM, please visit http://wfirm.org.

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