North Carolina (NC) GlaxoSmithKline Foundation has awarded North Carolina Central University (NCCU) a $1.85 million grant for a new initiative focused on educating and increasing the number of students pursuing careers in pharmaceutical and life sciences. With this grant, the Foundation has approved over $4.4 million to support education programs at NCCU.
The program titled, “North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation Program in Biotech: Learn into STEM and the Future,” is a partnership with NCCU’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (BRITE). The goal is to expand educational opportunities and provide science and research exposure to more underrepresented minorities by creating a new pipeline of students obtaining degrees in pharmaceutical sciences, clinical research and other science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, degrees.
The four-year initiative has three major components and objectives: 1) host a two-week, hands-on biotech summer immersion experience beginning in 2022 for more than 180 rising 10th and 11th grade high school students, who will each receive a $1,000 stipend; 2) recruit students into NCCU’s Pharmaceutical Sciences by funding 60, first-year freshmen students—NC GlaxoSmithKline Foundation Scholars—with scholarships, including tuition, fees, near-peer mentoring, skills training and professional development opportunities; and 3) offer professional and skills development workshops for public middle and high school teachers and community college students.
“As demand for talent in STEM disciplines continues to grow and outpace other occupations in North Carolina, nationally and globally, NCCU is enrolling and graduating minority students who are making a significant impact in industries, such as biomedicine and pharmaceutical sciences,” said Johnson O. Akinleye, Ph.D., chancellor. “The new grant from NC GlaxoSmithKline Foundation will create novel opportunities for future scholars to gain hands-on and other experiential learning in NCCU’s state-of-the-art labs and classrooms.”
"The NC GlaxoSmithKline Foundation Program in Biotech is truly an exciting collaboration for BRITE and NCCU,” said Carla Edge Oldham, Ph.D., assistant research professor and principal investigator in NCCU’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and BRITE. “Students will have access to hands-on training and the development of scientific competencies needed to excel in Pharmaceutical Sciences and the life science industry. NCCU Pharmaceutical Sciences graduates will be competitively positioned to transition into lucrative earning jobs in the growing biopharmaceutical industry. I want to thank NCCU’s Division of Institutional Advancement, including William G. Smith, the director of development at BRITE, for their assistance in working with NC GlaxoSmithKline Foundation on this grant.”
The program builds on previous gifts NCCU received from NC GlaxoSmithKline Foundation, including scholarship support and funding for the enhancement of NCCU’s STEM programming and training and research at BRITE.
Hernán Navarro, Ph.D., director of BRITE, noted, “Dr. Oldham’s award from the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation will have a transformative effect on BRITE’s K-12 STEM outreach programs by creating targeted summer learning opportunities for North Carolina high school students and providing merit-based scholarships to support them entering NCCU’s Pharmaceutical Sciences program.”
Marilyn Foote-Hudson, executive director of the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation stated, “Together the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation and North Carolina Central University will implement another program which will significantly contribute to students’ understanding and appreciation of science as well as how science enhances our lives.”
Information on applying for NCCU’s North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation Program in Biotech summer sessions will be made available on the NCCU website.