HHMI biology-education grant to U. Chicago

Howard Hughes Medical Institute awards $1.6 million grant to support undergraduate biology education at the University of Chicago

September 16, 1998

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) just awarded the University of Chicago a $1.6 million grant to support undergraduate biology education. This is the third such grant the University has received from HHMI over the past eight years.

The grant is one of 58 four-year grants the Institute has awarded to colleges and universities in the United States to revitalize science education, says Howard Hughes spokesman David Jarmul, bringing the total contribution to $91.1 million.

Jose Quintans, professor in pathology and master of the Biological Sciences Collegiate Division says, "we are delighted to be the recipients for the third consecutive cycle of HHMI funding for undergraduate education. Thanks to the continuing support that these grants have given us, I believe the University of Chicago has the best equipped undergraduate biology teaching labs in the world."

Grant panelists reviewing the University's request agree, "HHMI has helped the University of Chicago build some of the finest biology education facilities in the world," wrote one reviewer. Another described the Division of the Biological Sciences' proposed laboratory initiatives for non-majors as "bold" and potentially valuable for other institutions considering adopting such courses.

"The support of undergraduate science education is one of the most important investments that we as a society can make in our future," says Jeffrey Leiden, MD, PhD, Rawson Professor of Medicine and Pathology and section chief of cardiology at the University of Chicago. "This generous grant from the HHMI will ensure that undergraduates at the University of Chicago graduate with the scientific knowledge that they will need in the 21st century."

The money will go towards: faculty-mentored summer research opportunities for students; laboratory equipment for non-biology majors; expansion of outreach initiatives for teachers at Chicago elementary and secondary public schools; and development of a new laboratory course sequence for non-majors in genetics, integrative biology, and molecular environmental science.

"We are constantly upgrading our labs and curriculum, spending in excess of $200,000 each year to do so," says Quintans. "Non-majors currently have access to state-of-the-art equipment, such as fluorescence and Nomarski microscopes, tissue culture hoods, SGI computer work stations--and soon, a DNA-sequencing machine."

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