Senior Biology student Blossom (Chinemerem) Edoh will be heading to Duke University shortly after the conclusion of the spring semester. With a baccalaureate degree in hand, she’ll be joining the Bridging the Gap to Enhance Clinical Research (BIGGER) Program, a six-month program that immerses talented students in high-quality research experiences during their gap year following college graduation. The immersion program provides valuable preparation for careers in the health professions, and it complements existing NIH-sponsored programs at Duke University.
The competitive program accepted only six students for its 2023 cohort. According to the program's Senior Coordinator, Blossom “is a special person and dazzled us in her interview.” The program emphasizes clinical research methodology, ethics, social factors that influence human health, expanding healthcare access, and creation of caring community partnerships.
Blossom is one of the Biology Department’s most outstanding students. Read what she says about her interest in the BIGGER program and her career plans:
Why did you apply to this program?
In 2022, I was rounding up my research on "Pathway Analysis of Pulmonary Fibrosis Gene Sets from Whole Exome Sequencing"* and had fallen in love with the idea of doing research while pursuing my career. While working in the hospital, I had developed a stronger sense to understanding how and why people got various infections as well as how I wanted to factor it into my goal of becoming a physician scientist. I want to be a physician who can translate science and scientific practices into words patients and their families can understand, thus bridging the gap between science and the community. I had a conversation with a couple of friends and my mentor about clinical and translational medicine and how it was an increasing need to be able to clinically practice, do the work and translate these practices into useful aid for patients. A few weeks later, I received an email from the secretary of NC- Health Career Access Program UNCP, Mrs. Melissa Vance, who forwarded an email with the [BIGGER] program flyer and details as well as contact information of the Program coordinator. I scanned the email quickly and I forwarded it to my mentor Dr. Silvia Smith, who noted that it was a great opportunity. I decided to apply after evaluating the program goals and the benefits the program offered to students on the pre-medical track.
What are you hoping to gain from this program?
Through the Duke Clinical and Translational Science Institute BIGGER program, I will be given the opportunity to better understand the mechanism behind diseases as well as the science behind medicine. The BIGGER program will give me the opportunity to be immersed in clinical research as well as an independent research project. My goal is to be a physician who is not only able to translate the mechanism of science and the approach toward medicine into an innovative yet effective way of treating and providing better quality care to patients and their families. Furthermore, by building on my research skills and understanding of the mechanisms in various diseases, it will allow me to provide each patient with a treatment plan tailored to each patient. I desire to be part of the solution and not the problem; I just want to make people feel better regardless of the background, race, and religion.
What are your future educational/career goals and how do you think this program will help you achieve them?
My future educational and career goals include going to medical school to pursue one of the four specialties that will allow me to make the greatest impact in my community. The BIGGER program factors into my plan of becoming a physician because it will allow me to build on my skills, gain more knowledge and work with scientists who desire to promote equity in medicine and science. This program will allow me to consistently be an ‘arm extended’ by serving the patients and all the people they bring with them as well as continue to grow with medicine that is continually innovative.
Home away from home
Originally from Nigeria, Blossom has lived in the United States for seven years. Reflecting on her time at the University, she said, “…being in this community and learning here has allowed me to consistently step into what I desire by doing research, campus involvement, service opportunities, honor societies and many others. I would not have done it all without the help of the amazing faculty who mentored and guided me through my three years journey here at UNCP. Though it is hard to say goodbye in a few days, I will always remember my alma mater and be grateful for all the lessons I learned. North Carolina has become home away from home.”
The Biology Department congratulates Blossom on this wonderful opportunity at Duke University and sends her our "best wishes" in all her future endeavors! Please keep in touch!
*Undergraduate research as mentored by Dr. Silvia Smith (assistant professor in the UNCP Department of Biology). Blossom was mentored in another research project by Dr. Sivanadane Mandjiny, professor and chair of the Chemistry Department. Blossom is a member of several honor societies, including the Alpha Chi Honor Society. The BIGGER program will run from June to December 2023.