June 30, 2006

UCSD Receives $2.1 Million Grant to Enhance Undergraduate, Community College and Pre-College Science Education

Howard Hughes Medical Institute funding will support teaching and learning in the biological sciences for disadvantaged and first-generation college students

By Michael Dabney

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has awarded the University of California, San Diego a four-year, $2.1 million grant to further education in the biological sciences at the UCSD undergraduate and community college transfer levels, in addition to aggressively supporting science education for students and teachers at partnering high schools and middle schools.

The UCSD grant, which will focus primarily on students from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds and on selected schools having traditionally low college-going rates, will involve an array of university and community partners in carrying out its mission.

These partnerships form the basis of the grant’s strength, says Eduardo Macagno, Founding Dean, UCSD Division of Biological Sciences, who will serve as principal investigator of the HHMI award.

“Just as the rapid evolution of biological research requires that scientists from a wide range of academic disciplines work together effectively,” he says, “so must we in biological education work more closely and creatively with committed partners from the public and private sectors if we are to significantly increase the number of educationally and economically disadvantaged students entering higher education to pursue bioscience-related majors and graduate school.”

Partners in the grant include: Sweetwater Union High School District; Southwestern Community College; the San Diego Community College District’s three campuses; UCSD’s Division of Biological Sciences; the Bioengineering Department of UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering; UCSD School of Medicine, and Student Educational Advancement, or SEA (a division of UCSD Student Affairs which provides key pre-college academic outreach initiatives, undergraduate academic assistance support, and faculty-mentored undergraduate research opportunities on an ongoing basis at the university).

Macagno adds: “We are also grateful to be supported by a host of key biotechnological and biomedical firms.” These companies will provide summer research internships for UCSD’s HHMI students.

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