UIC Bridges to Baccalaureate Program

Encouraging and expanding scientific research careers

among underrepresented groups

Biomedical researchers from underrepresented populations are in high demand. Significant disparities in health outcomes between minority and majority U.S. populations persist, with many racial and ethnic minorities underserved in patient education, access to care, and quality of care. Yet individuals from underrepresented backgrounds make up a small percentage of biomedical researchers, despite bringing needed perspectives and experiences to the field.

UIC is directly addressing this gap with the NIH-funded Bridges to Baccalaureate Program, which prepares community college students from underrepresented groups to seamlessly transfer to UIC and earn their bachelor’s degrees in the natural or social sciences, nursing, or public health. The goal: increasing the pool of minority students who go on to research careers in the biomedical or behavioral sciences, potentially participating in NIH-funded research.

“As one of the most diverse universities in the nation, UIC is well positioned to offer this program that gives transfer students from underrepresented backgrounds the skills to be successful not only in their academic careers, but as professional health scientists,” says Paula Allen-Meares, Ph.D., the grant’s co-investigator and principal investigator from 2013-17. UIC is the only university in Chicago and one of just two in Illinois to participate in the Bridges program.

By partnering students one-on-one with UIC faculty mentors for summer research projects, the Bridges program enhances students’ basic research skills—including quantitative and qualitative analysis, critical thinking, and innovation—and builds leadership, collaborative, and problem-solving abilities. A parallel Bridges program, designed to improve science education in community colleges, offers several City Colleges of Chicago and South Suburban College instructors the opportunity to be mentored on research projects by UIC faculty members.

Read more about the UIC Bridges to Baccalaureate Program.