Bristol-Myers Squibb: Science Education
Science Education Legacy Grants/Resources/Tool Kits

Fellowship program in academic medicine for minority students

"The method of each one, teach one" has helped Fellows bring more diverse viewpoints into a health care system in need of diversity of representation, experience and opinion."

The Fellowship Program in Academic Medicine for Minority Students has sought to increase the number of African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, mainland Puerto Ricans and Native Americans in biomedical research and academic medicine. At its core, the program has aimed at addressing unfortunate health disparities between the care of minorities and the general population in America. By increasing the number of ethnic minorities in academic institutions, and by increasing minority representation among physicians on medical school faculties engaged in research, the issues facing minorities will be better addressed and understood. From 1990-2003, the program annually recognized up to 35 gifted minority medical students and provided them grants to conduct medical research. Fellows were third- and fourth-year minority medical students from across the United States. The program has offered an important opportunity for Fellows to create a network among themselves and to be mentored by leading researchers who serve as role models and advisors.

From 1990, when Bristol-Myers Squibb first became involved with Fellowship Program in Academic Medicine for Minority Students as a partial sponsor and became sole sponsor in 1993 of the program, administered by the National Medical Fellowships, Inc., and through 2003, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation contributed more than $4 million. More than 500 medical students participated in the program since it was established in 1983.

Many of these Fellows faced tremendous obstacles, including cultural and financial difficulties, on the way to achieving their dream of studying medicine. A substantial number of Fellows chose their areas of research because of a desire to combat health conditions that have a disproportionate impact on minorities.

As part of the program, each Fellow worked for 8 to 12 weeks in a medical school-based biomedical research laboratory on a specific research project in collaboration with a leading biomedical researcher who serves as a mentor. Research findings were presented at the annual research symposium of the Fellowship Program in Academic Medicine for Minority Students, the largest gathering of minority medical student researchers in the United States. Nominated by their medical school deans, Fellows were chosen by a distinguished committee of biomedical researchers and medical school faculty. Criteria for selection include academic achievement, leadership abilities and potential contributions to academic medicine.

The 2002 Fellows presented their findings in March 2003 at the company's Pharmaceutical Research Institute headquarters in Princeton, New Jersey. In conjunction with the gathering of the 35 Fellows, 100 minority junior and senior students were invited from regional high schools to participate in a High School Role Model Round Table, hosted at Bristol-Myers Squibb. Facilitated discussions in groups of 15-20 encouraged high school students aspiring to careers in science and medicine to discuss educational challenges and opportunities and to learn from the experiences of the visiting Fellows.


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