The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently awarded CSUN nearly $22 million over the next five years to make a nationwide impact on enhancing the diversity of the country’s biomedical workforce. This grant — the single largest the university has ever received — will fund BUILD PODER. BUILD (Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity) is a diversity initiative from the NIH to diversify the biomedical workforce by increasing the number of biomedical researchers that come from traditionally underserved communities. PODER (Promoting Opportunities for Diversity in Education and Research) is CSUN’s personal brand— poder in Spanish means “power” or “to be able.” CSUN is “building power” by instilling in these students the ability to overcome any challenge they confront on their path to a Ph.D. and beyond.
Students who are BUILD PODER trainees (sophomores) and scholars (juniors) take a summer Jumpstart Program in August. During the summer, the program focuses on the following areas to build the students’ emerging research identifiers:
1) Research skills-building,
2) Improving mentor-mentee
3) Research ethics,
5) Diversity issues, and
6) Hands-on research experience.
Students who are BUILD PODER trainees and scholars receive a stipend, tuition, funding for books, funding for travel to a conference, and a small research supply stipend. Most important, the program develops a community of support, be it supportive peers, mentors, or staff, to help participating students reach their academic and personal goals. Indeed, CSUN’s BUILD PODER program is well on its way to providing many students the skills and experiences they need as they set off on a career path as biomedical researchers.