NJCU Partners in a Research and Academic Career Development Award Funded by NIH

NJCU Partners in a Research and Academic Career Development Award Funded by NIH

Following the National Institute of General Medical Sciences’ renewal of funding, New Jersey City University will continue its collaborative postdoctoral training program with Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. The program, known locally as INSPIRE (New Jersey/New York for Science Partnerships in Research and Education), is one of only 22 Institutional Research and Career Development Award (IRACDA) programs in the country.

In contrast to traditional, postdoctoral fellowships that focus exclusively on research that develops fellows as researchers, the IRACDA program offers fellows training in both teaching and research. In addition, it has the explicit goal of fostering diversity in science at both the student and faculty levels.

“The INSPIRE program trains the next generation of science faculty to become successful researchers and educators, while promoting participation of underrepresented groups in biomedical research,” said INSPIRE Co-Director and Principal Investigator Martha Soto, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

The renewal of the competitive, National Institutes of Health grant, which began in 2010, provides postdoctoral fellows with the opportunity to conduct research at Rutgers University, and collaborate with NJCU faculty in the classroom and laboratory. Since its inception, seven INSPIRE fellows have partnered with NJCU faculty from all three of NJCU’s colleges in developing new course modules that incorporate cutting-edge research and active learning techniques.

“Every postdoctoral fellow and teaching mentor team at NJCU has made scientific, teaching-inspired modifications to multiple courses and, through their bottom-up approaches, important cultural and curricular changes resulted” said Cindy Arrigo, PhD., Associate Professor of Biology and Principle Investigator of the INSPIRE program at NJCU.

Importantly, these relationships have extended beyond their immediate impact in the classroom. “The NJCU-Rutgers collaboration has led to multiple collaborative research projects and peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts. Additionally, through the partnership, we have been able to place six undergraduate students in Rutgers’ highly-competitive Research Intensive Summer Experience,” noted Arrigo. “The program enriches the NJCU and Rutgers communities in so many ways. It has been tremendously rewarding for all involved. We look forward to many years of continued collaboration.”    

This fall, NJCU will welcome two new INSPIRE fellows: Dr. Jennifer Fragale, whose postdoctoral research focuses on the role of orexin in motivated opioid abuse, has matched with Dr. Matthew W. Roché, Assistant Professor of Psychology at NJCU. Dr. Vicky DiBona, whose postdoctoral research goals are to examine the effects of pesticide/insecticide exposure on microglia-neuron interactions during early development, has matched with Dr. Reed Carroll, Associate Professor of Biology at NJCU.  Additionally, Dr. Inna Nikonorova, whose postdoctoral research focuses on molecular biology of disease, will continue work with NJCU’s Department of Biology.