Lehigh receives $1.8 million from Howard Hughes Medical Institute for bioscience education

Grant will create opportunities in Biosystems Dynamics

Lehigh University has been awarded $1.8 million from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to fund undergraduate bioscience educational opportunities in Biosystems Dynamics.

The university, one of 160 institutions to apply for the grant, joins a list of 50 institutions, including Harvard, Yale, Vanderbilt, Dartmouth, Rice, Stanford and Washington University, that will receive a total of $86.4 million from HHMI over the next four years.

The award brings to $5.5 million the total funding Lehigh has received since 1989 from the competitive HHMI program, according to Jeff Sands, chair of the department of biological sciences.

Neal Simon, professor of biological sciences at Lehigh, will serve as HHMI program director and co-director of the Center for Biosystems Dynamics. Vassie Ware, associate professor of biological sciences, will serve as associate program director.

Simon said the HHMI grant would enable Lehigh to better prepare students for "the increasingly complex questions facing contemporary biology and medicine."

Lehigh recently received a $400,000 grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation to develop an undergraduate program in Applied Life Sciences.

Sands said HHMI's grant reviewers pointed to Lehigh's focus on providing students with research-intensive experiences in biosystems dynamics as a strength of the proposal.

Simon says the new HHMI grant will allow the university to offer a new introductory survey course that includes community access and promotes bioscience literacy. A minor in Biosystems Dynamics will stress an integrative approach to life science, including a Computational Biology Lab for modeling physiological processes.

The university will boost its capabilities in bioimaging through equipment acquisitions and a remote connection to the Center for Comparative NeuroImaging at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, which will allow fMRI studies to be run from Lehigh facilities.

Anne Meltzer, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Lehigh, said the HHMI grant will enable Lehigh to strengthen its commitment "to multidisciplinary perspectives and teamwork; to reach out to students from computer science, mathematics, physics, chemistry, and engineering in addition to biological sciences; and to involve them in life science research."

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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