The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) is thrilled to announce the successful renewal of its Research Experience for Undergraduate (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 provide unique research, education, and professional development opportunities for undergraduate students in the multidisciplinary field of regenerative medicine over the next three years (RM). 2023–202).
Building on the success of its previous REU program (Award #1659663, 2018-2022), WFIRM’s renewal grant has a specific focus on increasing the participation of underrepresented minority groups, women and non-traditional students, including 2- and 4-year universities. . The goal is to recruit a minimum of 80% of students each year from these underrepresented groups, giving them the opportunity to explore and contribute to high-priority research areas in regenerative medicine. From 2004-2021, WFIRM has provided research opportunities to more than 500 graduate 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 positioned to address the need for increased diversity in STEM by introducing new creative approaches and partnerships, providing a culture to create a larger future talent pipeline where talented individuals from diverse backgrounds Welcome, enhanced recruitment, professional development, networking opportunities, and exposure to technology and biomanufacturing and biofabrication research priorities within the field.
Joan Shank, WFIRM’s chief education officer and co-principal investigator on the grant
During 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 have made significant contributions to ongoing research activities, 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 reproductive medicine: “The renewed REU program will build on lessons learned and include faculty mentoring, expanding recruitment efforts and improving . Strengthen passion for STEM education and careers, creating a diverse and inclusive pipeline of talent in the field of regenerative medicine.”
For more information on the WFIRM REU site and its impact on advancing diversity in STEM, please visit http://wfirm.org.