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Initiative To Maximize Student Development (RUSH IMSD)

The Rush Initiative to Maximize Student Development, or Rush IMSD, is a National Institutes of Health-funded PhD training grant for underrepresented minority, or URM*, students. Rush recognizes that the biomedical workforce does not reflect the diversity of our nation. Minorities continue to be underrepresented in biomedical PhD programs. Rush IMSD is an institutional effort to enhance the recruitment, retention and training of URMs in the Graduate College at Rush University.

Fostering URM success in the modern age of biomedical research involves the classical training of graduate students to be productive scientists, and the development of professional tools that are increasingly relevant to navigate a rigorous PhD program and a successful career thereafter. Rush IMSD integrates scientific and professional training activities to ensure that participants are fully prepared to complete a PhD program and enter the biomedical workforce.

Rush IMSD training focuses on key tools necessary to develop into a productive PhD student and a scientist, including effective presentation skills, grant writing, time management, conflict resolution and emotional intelligence. The IMSD program also focuses on operational expertise, including budgeting and fiscal management of a laboratory. Rush IMSD is uniquely positioned to play this important role due to a relatively small university setting that can facilitate meaningful interactions between nationally recognized faculty and Rush IMSD participants.

*According to the NIH, the following groups are underrepresented in biomedical research: African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and Alaska Natives who maintain tribal affiliation or community attachment, Hawaiian natives and natives of the U.S. Pacific Islands.

A Message from the director

Lena Al-Harthi, PHD - Director of the IMSD (Initiative to Maximize Student Development) Program at Rush.

In March 2015, Rush was awarded a $1.4 million grant through the National Institute of General Medical Education to promote PhD training of underrepresented minority students in biomedical sciences. This award places Rush among elite universities that have an IMSD program, including Duke University, Brown University, Columbia University, UCLA, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of California at San Diego, the University of Michigan, Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.

The establishment of Rush IMSD is an unprecedented accomplishment given the relatively small size of our university. Already, we have made great strides in increasing the URM applicant pool and admission to our PhD in Integrated Biomedical Sciences program. Sustainability of this program depends on all of us — administrative support and faculty who are engaged in higher education and research. Working together, I envision Rush as a renowned center of excellence for training URM PhDs.

Lena Al-Harthi, PhD

Speaker Series

  • Dr. Sarki Abba Abdulkadir, Northwestern University - February 19 from 2 p.m. - 3 p.m. Room AAC 540
  • Dr. Luis Martinez from Stony Brook Medicine in New York- March 12