IMSD T32 at Texas A&M University

The Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity in Biomedical Sciences aims to enhance recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority (URM) students who have the skills to transition successfully into biomedical research careers.

Maximizing Diversity in Biomedical Sciences

IMSD at TAMU is a T32 training program funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health that supports 12 new trainees per year. This program will serve as a hub for unifying training-oriented diversity initiatives in biomedical fields and establish a community of URM scholars at Texas A&M.


The overall mission of the TAMU IMSD program is to maximize student diversity in biomedical sciences at Texas A&M by focusing on the recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority (URM) populations of trainees seeking a Ph.D. degree who have the skills to successfully transition into careers in the biomedical research workforce.


The goal of the TAMU IMSD is to prepare trainees to function as independent researchers and/or practitioners in a multidisciplinary setting by providing training in classroom-, laboratory- and externship-based settings, building an inclusive community of scholars in biomedical sciences.


  1. Institutionalize successful recruitment and retention efforts for URM doctoral candidates in biomedical disciplines at Texas A&M University.
  2. Augment specific program-related doctoral training in critical thinking, scientific reasoning, rigorous research design, experimental methods, quantitative and computational approaches, and data analysis and interpretation with additional skills to independently acquire the knowledge needed to advance in their chosen biomedical fields.
  3. Create a vibrant and supportive community of URM scholars to stimulate interest and enrollment in biomedical graduate programs at Texas A&M University, and create a model program that increases the number of competitive URM biomedical graduates.
  4. Provide URM biomedical trainees with the knowledge, professional skills and practical experiences required to identify and transition into careers in the biomedical research workforce.
  5. Link and leverage other Texas A&M graduate programs to enhance diversity in graduate education, especially those involving former students, for synergy and to disseminate findings.
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We are pleased to receive support from the NIH for this new initiative to develop a diverse and supportive training environment for graduate students in biomedical fields at Texas A&M. This funding will support student success for graduate researchers and scholars and amplify our efforts to help them forge successful careers after graduation.
Karen Butler-Purry, Ph.D.
Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate and Professional School, and Principal Investigator for IMSD at TAMU.

Recruiting, Retaining and Training a Diverse Biomedical Research Workforce

IMSD funding supports selected URM doctoral student trainees in one of the six major biomedical graduate training programs at Texas A&M University:

  • Medical Sciences
  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Genetics
  • Toxicology
  • Biochemistry & Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering

The university is doubling the impact of the grant by matching the NIH support for six trainees to fund six additional trainees. The IMSD program serves as a hub for unifying training-oriented diversity initiatives in biomedical fields and establish a community of URM scholars at Texas A&M.

Recruitment efforts will focus on students from underrepresented groups at a wide range of undergraduate institutions and diversity fairs.

Program Activities

Once enrolled, students will enter a personalized program that combines instruction, research, mentoring and aspects of career development.

Year One of the Doctoral Program

Support from this program is offered in the first year of the doctoral program, at the time when trainees undertake two laboratory rotations, follow structured core academic curricula of their respective graduate programs, and participate in regular joint activities as a group.

A distinctive feature of the IMSD program is a strongly encouraged hands-on summer externship through a broad and diverse network of academic laboratories, state and federal governmental agencies, as well as industry and non-governmental organizations, where they can gain professional training and establish career-building relationships.

Year Two and Beyond

Following the first year, support will shift to trainee’s graduate program, mentor, or other related programming. However, trainees will continue participation in program-related functions that enable them to maintain a strong bond to a community of scholars of underrepresented backgrounds in addition to their home programs. Trainees affiliated with this program will be highly successful in academia, industry, government and other professional settings in health-related disciplines.

Activities and products students will have completed by the end of the program include:

  • Annually-reviewed, comprehensive individual development plan (IDP) that verifies activity completion.
  • Identified advisor, mentor, committee, and learning communities that meet regularly.
  • Annually-reviewed CV that enumerates skills, products, and participation in non-academic (e.g., externship) and academic (e.g., conferences) events.
  • Completed dissertation.
  • Academic identity products and practical skills used for job search and early career positioning (such as social media presence).
  • Multiple job applications and job interviews.
  • Secured position after dissertation completion.
  • Established a plan for early career success.


The training timeline and 11 implementation activities for the TAMU IMSD model are detailed below.

The training timeline and 11 implementation activities for the TAMU IMSD model

Biomedical Data Science Online Training Program

The Texas A&M Institute of Data Science (TAMIDS) provides a series of online training programs on computation systems and statistical learning in Data Science in the biomedical domain. Sessions couple exposition of underlying principles with engagement of participants through quizzes and exercises focused on developing computation competencies. 

Target participants are PhD trainees in biomedical training programs at Texas A&M and beyond, in the second or later years of their programs. 

For more information and program schedules, visit the program website.


Karen Butler-Purry

Graduate and Professional School Dean

Principal Investigator

Dr. Karen Butler-Purry Portrait
Candice Brinkmeyer-Langford Portrait

Candice Brinkmeyer-Langford

Research Assistant Professor

Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences

Weihsueh A. Chiu


Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences

Weihsueh A. Chiu Portrait
Roland Kaunas Portrait

Roland Kaunas

Associate Professor

Department of Biomedical Engineering

Ivan Rusyn


Toxicology Interdisciplinary Graduate Program and

Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences

Ivan Rusyn Portrait
Dorothy Shippen Portrait

Dorothy Shippen

University Distinguished Professor

Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics, Genetics

David Threadgill

University Distinguished Professor

Genetics Interdisciplinary Graduate Program and Departments of Molecular & Cellular Medicine and Biochemistry & Biophysics

David Threadgill Portrait

Advisory Boards

Internal and external advisory boards provide oversight and support IMSD programming.

Internal Advisory Board

The Internal Advisory Board’s role is to ensure tight integration of this training program with the rest of Texas A&M University and with individual Colleges. To this effect, the Board includes representatives of the administration for participating Colleges.

Robert Burghardt Portrait

Robert Burghardt, Ph.D.

Assoc. Dean for Research and Graduate Studies,

College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) 

Roderic Pettigrew, Ph.D., M.D.

Chief Executive Officer of Engineering Health

Executive Dean for Engineering Medicine

Roderic Pettigrew Portrait
Kenneth Ramos Portrait

Kenneth Ramos

Executive Director, Texas A&M Institute of Biosciences and Technology

Professor of Medicine, Texas A&M College of Medicine Associate 

Vice President for Research, Texas A&M University Health Science Center 

Assistant Vice Chancellor for Health Services, The Texas A&M University System

External Advisory Board

The External Advisory Board’s roles are to (i) ensure the academic and research excellence of the training program, (ii) review the outcomes and learning objectives of the trainee externships, (iii) evaluate the dedication to the overall focus on diversity in biomedical training, (iv) confirm the program’s adherence to the IMSD Programmatic goals, and (v) inform the program’s leadership, mentors, and trainees of opportunities for research, training and career options in biomedical fields. To this effect, the Board includes representatives from academia and non-academic fields such as drug industry and Federal government, and non-governmental organizations.

David Eaton, Ph.D.

Dean of the Graduate School

Dean of the Graduate School

Vice Provost Emeritus and Professor Emeritus

Environmental & Occupation Health Sciences,

University of Washington

Seattle, WA

David Eaton Portrait
Cato Laurencin Portrait

Cato Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D.

University Professor

University of Connecticut

Storrs, CT

Kristi Pullen Fedinick, Ph.D.

Director, Science and Data

Healthy People & Thriving Communities Program

Natural Resources Defense Council

Washington, DC

Kristi Pullen Fedinick Portrait
Carlos Rodriguez-Garcia Portrait

Carlos Rodriguez-Garcia

Director, Operations Support, AstraZeneca Coppell, TX 

President, BioMed Pharma Consulting

Plano, TX 75024


Current Trainees

COHORT 1 (Fall 2020)

Sophia (Frankie) Antillon

Biochemistry and Biophysics

Undergraduate Institution: University of La Verne

Sophia (Frankie) Antillon Portrait
Pedro Monagas-Valentin Portrait

Pedro Monagas-Valentin

Biochemistry and Biophysics

Undergraduate Institution: University of Puerto Rico

Richard Urbanowski

Biomedical Engineering

Undergraduate Institution: Tulane University

Richard Urbanowski
Valentina Garcia Portrait

Valentina Garcia

Biomedical Engineering

Undergraduate Institution: University of Florida

Gladys Pedraza

Biomedical Sciences

Undergraduate Institution: Texas A&M University

Gladys Pedraza Portrait
Molly McClung

Molly McClung

Biomedical Sciences

Undergraduate Institution: Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Osiris Lopez-Garcia


Undergraduate Institution: University of Puerto Rico

Osiris Lopez-Garcia Portrait
Eduardo Martinez Portrait

Eduardo Martinez


Undergraduate Institution: UT-Rio Grande Valley

Daniela Ayala

Medical Sciences

Undergraduate Institution: San Diego State University

Daniela Ayala Portrait
Aja Coleman Portrait

Aja Coleman

Medical Sciences

Undergraduate Institution: Trinity University

Kelly Rivenbark


Undergraduate Institution: King University

Kelly Rivenbark Portrait
Haley Moyer Portrait

Haley Moyer


Undergraduate Institution: Lock Haven University


If you have further questions about the IMSD, email

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