By Michelle Jaffee
Six University of Florida undergraduate students have been selected to conduct mentored research on cognitive aging and Alzheimer’s disease under a new federal R25 grant aimed at increasing opportunities for underrepresented researchers in these fields.
The five-year NIH Research Education Program grant, awarded to neuroscientists Sara Burke, Ph.D., Jeremy McIntyre, Ph.D., and Jose Abisambra, Ph.D., provides support for UF’s new NEURON-Aging program, which kicked off with its inaugural class in January.
“As we as society deal with the neural consequences of aging across the population, we need individuals from all backgrounds to address the problems that it produces,” said McIntyre, an assistant professor of neuroscience who will direct the new program with Burke and Abisambra.
“This program will provide enhanced research opportunities for undergraduate students both at UF and from other universities and colleges,” he said. “Principally, it will provide a financial stipend that will allow students to spend time conducting hands-on research in aging- and neurodegeneration-focused laboratories.”
The goal of the new program is to expand the pool of researchers interested in biomedical, behavioral and clinical aspects of brain aging and Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. In addition to one-to-one mentorship, participants will have opportunities to present their research at local, national and international conferences and attend workshops by distinguished neuroscientists from UF and institutions including Northwestern University, Yale University, NIH, Medical University of South Carolina, University of North Carolina and Arizona State University.
The grant, which provided $320,000 for the first year, will also support the growth of UF’s Summer Neuroscience Internship Program and help establish a new post-baccalaureate program in the neurosciences to serve as a bridge to doctoral training.
The students selected for the inaugural class are: Ariana Robinson, Fapianey Alexandre, Faith Broersma, Ana Ojeda, Jose Rodriguez and Ann Titus.