News Release

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

NIH student research conference marks 10th anniversary

Undergraduate and graduate students from across the country — many of them members of groups that are underrepresented in biomedical and behavioral research careers — will gather for a flagship research conference on Nov. 10-13 in Charlotte, N.C. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS), which provides students with experience in presenting their research and opportunities for career-enhancing interactions with other students and scientists. ABRCMS is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) and is managed by the American Society for Microbiology.

"Since its inception, ABRCMS has provided a national-level forum for promising scientists-in-training to showcase their talent and knowledge," said Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., director of NIGMS. "It also helps them make important connections in pursuit of advanced scientific training, and it offers faculty mentors valuable resources for facilitating their students’ success."

Highlights of the program include:

  • "Exceptional Opportunities for Biomedical Research," keynote speech by Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the NIH, Bethesda, Md.
  • "Why Grey Matter Matters," keynote speech by Juliet V. García, Ph.D., president of the University of Texas at Brownsville
  • "The Dark Side of the Universe: Black Holes, Dark Matter, Dark Energy," plenary scientific session speech by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ph.D., director of the Hayden Planetarium, New York City
  • "An Afternoon with Maya Angelou," keynote speech by Maya Angelou, poet and Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C.

During much of the meeting, students will participate in poster and oral presentations in diverse areas of science, including microbiology, neuroscience and physiology.

"It's critical for students from underrepresented groups to have opportunities to present their research findings," said Clifton A. Poodry, Ph.D., director of the Division of Minority Opportunities in Research at NIGMS. "What makes ABRCMS so unique is that it provides students—often for the first time—with the chance to have their research voices heard by their peers and established scientists. It's a life-changing event for many participants."

ABRCMS attracts approximately 2,800 attendees, including about 1,500 undergraduate students and 300 graduate students. All are pursuing advanced training in the biomedical and behavioral sciences, and many have conducted independent research. Roughly 60 percent of the student participants are supported by NIGMS-sponsored programs.

The meeting also features several hundred exhibits where university, government agency, foundation and professional scientific society representatives present their training programs, funding opportunities and professional networks. Close to a dozen NIH components plan to display exhibits at the conference.

"As our nation strives to maintain its global leadership in science and engineering, ABRCMS occupies a special place," said Clifford W. Houston, Ph.D., a professor and associate vice president for educational outreach at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and ABRCMS chairperson. "The meeting's profound commitment to promoting interdisciplinary training, undergraduate research and mentorship makes it an important contributor to fostering the development of scientists from diverse backgrounds."

To arrange an interview with NIGMS Director Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., or Clifton Poodry, Ph.D., director of the NIGMS Division of Minority Opportunities in Research (MORE), contact the NIGMS Office of Communications and Public Liaison at 301-496-7301. For more information on MORE programs, visit, For more information on ABRCMS, visit

NIGMS is a part of NIH that supports basic research to increase our understanding of life processes and lay the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention. For more information on the Institute's research and training programs, see

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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