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Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences Department's Bridges to Doctorate Program Achieves Success

A view of the Old Main administrative buildingThe Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences (VBS) Department at Penn State is pleased to announce that its Bridges to the Doctorate Program, jointly coordinated with Alcorn State University, has achieved an 80 percent success rate since its inception in 2006. This was announced on July 24, 2013, when the program advisory committee met to discuss the past successes and future goals of the program.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) funds the national Bridges program through an R25 grant, which originated in 1992 and funds 14 institutes. This grant provides funds to support underrepresented science students as they continue from a master’s degree program into a Ph.D. program. Throughout the process, they receive mentoring and assistance in study skills, laboratory experience, and career development. By making use of these support mechanisms, the Bridges Students are more likely to complete the program and attain their Ph.D.s. Ultimately, the goal is to increase the pool of scientists in the biomedical and behavioral fields and, therefore, in NIH-funded research.

For the Penn State/Alcorn State program, the students earn their master’s degree in biology from Alcorn State University in Mississippi and then enter an appropriate doctoral program at Penn State. Compared to other institutions across the country, the Penn State/Alcorn State program is on its way to having the highest success rate of students who stay in the program and complete their Ph.D.s. Since 1992, sixty-four Bridges students across the United States have completed their Ph.D.s. Penn State/Alcorn State have hosted ten students since 2006, eight of whom are successfully on their way to earning their Ph.D.s. 

VBS attributes this success to the weekly journal club meetings linking new students to experienced students who can “show them the ropes,” state-of-the-art research laboratories and faculty who are invested in mentoring students, and the hard work of each Bridges student. 

To learn more about the Penn State/Alcorn State Bridges to the doctorate program, contact Dr. Pamela Hankey at phc7@psu.edu or visit the program website.

For more information, contact Kristin Cox at kmd112@psu.edu or 814-865-7696.

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