Grant will increase participation in biomedical research


UNC Pembroke received a four-year grant this summer for more than $1 million to help boost the diversity of the nation’s biomedical researchers.


Paul Flowers


Robert Poage

The grant is from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institute of Health and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. UNCP’s Biology and Chemistry and Physics departments wrote the grant and will be its headquarters.

The program, which begins on August 1, was hailed as a breakthrough for undergraduate research at UNCP.

“This is a program with a significant undergraduate research component that is a good fit for us,” said Chemistry and Physics Department Chair Dr. Paul Flowers. “This was a very competitive application process, and I strongly believe that our track record in undergraduate research helped us. We have been working to get this sort of program since the early 1990s.”

Entitled Research Initiatives for Scientific Enhancement (RISE), the program takes a multi-pronged approach that includes research and support in the form of peer and faculty tutoring, said Dr. Robert Poage, program director and a faculty member in UNCP’s Biology Department.

“There are courses such as cell biology and organic chemistry that prove difficult for students,” Dr. Poage said. “We will work to build success in these core courses.”

The ultimate goal is to overcome ethnic, racial and socioeconomic barriers to accessing research professions.

“Our goal is to increase the number of students who go to graduate programs in research,” Dr. Poage said. “Doing research will give our students good experience with the scientific methodology.”

Dr. Flowers said participating in research as an undergraduate can be the ticket to graduate school and a research career.

“Undergraduate research did it for me,” Dr. Flowers said. “I was sure I was going into the Air Force, until I had my first research experience in the lab.”

UNCP has a strong commitment to undergraduate research. Dr. Flowers coordinates a program through a National Science Foundation grant.

Dr. Sally Vallabha, a professor in the Chemistry and Physics Department, helped write the grant and will act as educational coordinator for the project.

For more information about the RISE program at UNCP, please contact the Biology Deparment at 910.521.6245 or email Dr. Poage at or the Chemistry and Physics Department at 910.521.6247.