Conference supports minority students to pursue biomedical careers

Approximately 2,000 minority college students will participate next month in a unique meeting designed to encourage and support their pursuit of advanced training and careers in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. The Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) will be held November 8-11, 2006 at the Anaheim Convention Center and Anaheim Marriott in Anaheim, California.

"This conference addresses a critical need in this country to cultivate the scientific potential and talent in groups (women and under-represented minorities) that were historically and are currently under-utilized in careers within the biomedical sciences," says Clifford Houston, President-Elect of the American Society for Microbiology, the organizer of the conference.

The need is particularly significant considering the continued population growth along with the rapidly changing demographics occurring in this country. It is predicted there will be an overall shortage in the biomedical sciences workforce over the next 10-15 years because a large number of 'baby-boomers' are expected to retire during this time, Houston says.

Supported by a multimillion dollar grant from the National Institutes of Health, the four-day meeting is expected to draw nearly 2,000 students (mostly undergraduate) from under-represented minority groups including African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans. In addition to scientific sessions where many students will be presenting research for the first time, the conference will also feature professional development workshops and numerous networking opportunities with hundreds of faculty and administrators from graduate schools, government agencies, scientific societies and foundations expected to attend.

Students presenting research at the meeting will also be competing for awards. After being reviewed by faculty members and researchers from the scientific community, a number of students will be recognized for outstanding achievement. In 2005, 90 students were each awarded $250 for their research during the closing awards banquet.

The keynote session of the meeting will feature Dr. Aida Giachello, Director of the Midwest Latino Health Research, Training and Policy Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Recognized by Time Magazine as one of the 25 most influential Hispanics in America for 2005, Dr. Giachello will speak on the issues and challenges involved in reducing health disparities among minorities in the United States.

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ABRCMS is an annual conference organized by the American Society for Microbiology and supported by a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. Now in its sixth year, ABRCMS is the largest, professional conference for biomedical students attracting approximately 2,600 individuals, including 1,650 undergraduate students, 280 graduate students, 30 postdoctoral scientists and 750 faculty and administrators. Students come from over 285 U.S. colleges and universities. All are pursuing advanced training in the biomedical sciences, and many have conducted independent research.

Media are invited to attend and media registration is complimentary. Reporters wishing to arrange registration or interviews with conference organizers or keynote speakers should contact Jim Sliwa in the ASM Office of Communications.

Further information on ABRCMS including detailed program calendar can be found online at www.abrcms.org.


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