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Thirty-Six Years of Renewal Grants and Still Going Strong

These days, even long-time renewal grants are having a tough time securing federal funds. That's the case for New Mexico State University's Minority Access to Research Careers program, which has been funded by the US National Institute of General Medical Sciences for the last 36 years, reports NMSU's Janet Perez in the Las Cruces Sun-News. (An NIH RePORT query retrieved NIGMS renewal records since 1985, and a total funding amount for 32 projects of $8,479,977.)

The program — which, according to Perez, "seeks to increase the number and capabilities of biomedical researchers from underrepresented groups" — accepts honors undergraduate students who "expressly want to go onto a PhD program and biomedical research," says director Michael Johnson, professor of inorganic chemistry and biochemistry at the university. Johnson has been PI on the NIGMS grant since 1998.

"Every five years, it's a competitive renewal and with all the budget cuts across all agencies this year we were worried," Johnson tells the Sun-News.

But the grant was renewed. Johnson and his colleagues "were awarded a grant worth $3.8 million that extends MARC funding until 2017," Perez says. "The grant will allow Johnson to award MARC fellowships to as many as 24 undergraduate students each year of the grant."

Among other things, Johnson says, the program offers up a "holistic approach to preparing for and getting into graduate school."