A new collaborative program, Einstein Discover Research Program, funded by Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center (MECC) and the Harold and Muriel Block Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR), gives aspiring scientists from underrepresented groups a boost into cancer research and biomedical careers.
In collaboration with Lehman College, City University of New York, the Einstein Discover Research Program gives graduate students access to world-class labs and faculty researchers as they work toward a Master of Science in Biology granted by Lehman College.
“It was such a great opportunity to learn skills that weren’t taught at my school,” said Sovira Chaudhry, who graduated with a Master in Science degree last year from the pilot program, after working in the Charles Query lab.
Lehman College, where nearly 90% of students are from underrepresented groups and more than half are the first in their family to attend college, selects up to four master-level students each year to perform research at Einstein during the 15-month Einstein Discover Research Program. Many students in the master’s program are considered nontraditional, as they might be seeking a career change or are older than the typical graduate student. Additionally, most of these students support themselves, and sometimes their families, with jobs outside of the program. To offset students’ expenses and allow the time to conduct the research, Einstein Discover Research Program provides a $12,000 stipend.
“This is a very immersive program for the students,” said Kristina Ames, PhD, Assistant Director, Cancer Research Training and Education Coordination, Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center, and Assistant Professor, Oncology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Dr. Ames spearheaded and oversees the program, working closely with the students as well as postdoctoral fellows, faculty and advisors. Students are matched with research labs, at either MECC or ICTR, that align with their interests.
“Our program is very supportive of students’ academic development, and many of our trainees aspire to apply for PhD or MD programs. In addition to research, they attend weekly workshops, scientific seminars and other educational activities on the Einstein campus to enhance their laboratory experience and hone their scientific skills,” said Dr. Ames. “We support our master’s student experience with direct mentorship by a postdoctoral fellow or a senior graduate student.”
“I cannot say enough about the dedication and unmatchable guidance Dr. Ames provided to me,” said Chaudhry. “Her mentorship and commitment to this program and the students are truly inspiring.”
After finishing the program, Chaudhry accepted a job offer as a research technician at MECC and applied to Einstein’s PhD program. A cohort of three graduate students started the program in January 2023. They will be conducting work in the ICTR host lab of Johanna Daily, MD, and MECC host labs of Lindsay LaFave, PhD, and Kristy Stengel, PhD.
Learn more about how aspiring scientists can apply to the Einstein Discover Research Program.