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901/333-STCC * www.southwest.tn.edu

DATE:  August 7, 2000

CONTACT:  Calvin Burns, 901/333-5338 or Stephanie Richards, 901/333-4368

NIH Awards $350,000 Grant to STCC's Natural Science Department; Initiative Targets Minority Students

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a two-year grant for $350,000 to the Natural Science Department at Southwest Tennessee Community College. In announcing the grant, NIH officials noted that STCC has an option for an additional year of funding for $180,000. The funding is for the Bridge to the Biomedical Sciences Program. Southwest Tennessee is the managing institution  of  the grant. The University of Tennessee Health Science Center, The University of Memphis and LeMoyne-Owen College are also participating in the project.

Established in the early 1900s, NIH has a stated mission of improving the quality of life for all Americans through biomedical research. The highly-regarded agency is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland.    

STCC's Bridge Program is housed at the Union Avenue Campus.  The primary objective of the initiative is to increase the number of minority students who successfully transfer from STCC to four-year colleges and help them establish careers in the areas of Biomedical and Natural Sciences.

This innovative project  places qualified minority students in a faculty mentored program where they are  exposed to biomedical research experiences. Since its inception in 1995, more than 25 students at the Union Avenue Campus have completed the program and transferred to The University of Memphis to earn a Bachelor of Science degree.

Saeid Baki, department head for Natural Science at STCC, also serves as principal investigator for the Bridge to the Biomedical Sciences Program. He credits a team effort by dedicated faculty  for being largely responsible for NIH awarding the grant to his department.

"Our team members are doing a tremendous job with this program," Baki said. "And our students must be commended for their outstanding achievements. The dedication that they exhibit to pursue educational goals is an inspiration to all of us."

Dr. Indiren Pillay, assistant professor of  Natural Science, serves as co-director of  the  project. Dr. Sam Chang, professor of  Physical Science, is the faculty mentor. Louis Moses, associate professor of Natural Science, serves as the orientation coordinator, and associate professor Kathy Germain is the student coordinator.

For more information about the Bridge to the Biomedical Sciences Program, call Southwest Tennessee Community College at  (901) 333-5220.

Southwest Tennessee Community College is a Tennessee Board of Regents institution.