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GSRM program offers students valuable pathway to grad school and career

GSRM 2023 team participants


This summer, 15 undergraduate students from across the country visited the University of Utah to participate in the Genomics Summer Research for Minorities (GSRM) research program that supports students from underrepresented communities find their place in health and biomedicine. 

The GSRM program, hosted by the Department of Pediatrics Research Education Office at University of Utah Health, provides a ten-week summer research program for undergraduate students interested in precision medicine, biosciences, and/or bioinformatics with a focus on genomics research, including ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI) of genomics research. GSRM’s mission is to train a cadre of scholars through tailored mentoring, research experience, and professional development. The long-term goal is to successfully prepare scholars to enter graduate school and biomedical careers and to become leaders in these fields. The program provides participants with placement in world-class genomics research groups, and access to state-of-the-art equipment and technology. Trainees have the opportunity to interact with a thriving community of scientists, physicians, and mentors who recognize the importance of promoting diversity in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) workforce.  

During the summer program, trainees are housed on the health sciences campus, giving them close fellowship and networking with mentors and near-peer co-mentors. A grant from the Department of Pediatrics provides transportation in Salt Lake City and access to the Student’s Recreation Center, affording more independence to the students and giving them a chance over the summer to experience what the university, the city, and the state have to offer. Another key benefit offered by the program is financial support to send students to national meetings and conferences to present their summer findings. 

Since its inception in 2019, 53 trainees, representing 44 different universities and colleges across more than 25 states and U.S territories, have completed the program with 100% program completion rate.  Remarkably, of the 21 trainees who have completed their undergraduate degrees so far, 15 (71%) have been accepted into graduate programs for the following degree tracks: MS (4 trainees), PhD (5 trainees), MD (4 trainees), and MD/PhD (2 trainees). Two trainees (10%) are attending postbaccalaureate programs, and four (19%) gained employment in STEM related fields after graduating.  

Trainees report many benefits from the summer experience, but the most often cited rewards are in increases to clarity and confidence: “I feel like I gained a lot of direction because at the beginning of this program I hadn't had any research experience... Coming to the U of U and doing research, made me really realize how much I enjoy being in the lab...[and] pushed me towards considering a MD/PhD with focus in genomics rather than just an MD.”  Another trainee wrote “I know so much more about my direction for the next four years [after] this summer” and the student goes on to credit “[the] environment of learning and ambition and planning” in the summer program for making this possible. And yet another trainee writes “I would say that I gained confidence [from the summer program] that I belong in the field that I want to go into, confidence that I can do it, confidence that it makes sense.” 

GSRM is funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Utah, and the MD/PhD Program at the University of Utah. To learn more about the summer internship, download the program flyer, and find out about the upcoming application cycle, please visit the GSRM website.

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Gloria Slattum, PhD

Aug 29, 2023 2:30 PM