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Vol. LXI, No. 6
March 20, 2009
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NIAID Outreach Program Inspires Students

Dr. Anthony Fauci (front row, c) poses with the INRO class of 2009.

Dr. Anthony Fauci (front row, c) poses with the INRO class of 2009.

“INRO opened new doors for networking and showed me the type of research going on at NIH,” said Arnaldo Carreira, an undergraduate at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez campus.

He and 22 other students representing the next generation of researchers were invited to NIAID as part of an outreach program for populations underrepresented in the sciences. The program, Intramural NIAID Research Opportunities (INRO), links promising students with training experiences. During the event held Feb. 2-5, students heard researchers speak about today’s global public health threats, toured some of the institute’s facilities and networked with current research trainees and potential mentors.

NIH deputy director for intramural research Dr. Michael Gottesman urged the students to obtain a broad education that includes courses in art, music and literature in addition to science and math classes. People who bring diverse perspectives to biomedical research, he said, offer greater innovation and are better able to solve health problems.

He assured, “There are and will be plenty of jobs in biomedical research.” Close to one-third of the NIH staff is nearing retirement age, he said, indicating more opportunity.

Visiting INRO students (from l) Gregory Hild, Hunter Oliver-Allen, Danielle Miranda and Jeffery Cumplida listen to a presentation while visiting NIAID in February as part of the Intramural NIAID Research Opportunities Program.
Visiting INRO students (from l) Gregory Hild, Hunter Oliver-Allen, Danielle Miranda and Jeffery Cumplida listen to a presentation while visiting NIAID in February as part of the Intramural NIAID Research Opportunities Program.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIAID director, spoke about the challenges of global health and the research under way to prevent and treat emerging and re-emerging diseases. Dr. Thomas Quinn, associate director for international research, elaborated on the public health threat of HIV and current NIAID projects investigating the role of viral load and strategies to prevent the transmission of the virus.

The program ended with a presentation by Dr. Mark Dybul, former U.S. global AIDS coordinator and current staff member of NIAID’s Office of the Director, who spoke about the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. He advised, “Follow what pulls your heart—you’ll never be unhappy.”

Mark Sena, a senior at the University of Washington, said, “I am excited about the future possibility of an experience in a government lab. INRO opened a door to be able to accomplish that.”

The INRO program marked its seventh anniversary in February. Of the 148 students who have participated, more than half have returned to the institute for a traineeship and another quarter plan to return after finishing their educational pursuits.

“INRO is not just a 4-day program,” said Dr. Wendy Fibison, associate director of NIAID’s Office of Training and Diversity. “It is an opportunity to facilitate the progress of these students toward a career in biomedical research…and ultimately support NIAID’s strategic goal of a more diverse workforce.” NIHRecord Icon

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