Portal to Biomedical Research Careers Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program
About PBRC PREP Heading link
UIC PBRC PREP is a program for recent, or soon to be, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) baccalaureate graduates who aspire to enter PhD programs and wish to pursue a research career in the biomedical sciences.
UIC PBRC PREP helps undergraduate students augment and strengthen their research skills and laboratory experience, builds on a foundation of academic skills, critical thinking, written and oral communication, and prepares the student for GRE testing. Students first engage in early June 2023 in a 8-week summer “Boot Camp” course to broaden their skills in preparation for graduate school programs, and work in a major research laboratory in the final ten months of the program. Students are financially supported through the program with a $31K salary. Program ends near end of May 2024.
Campus housing is provided during the initial month of the program. This gives the PREP Scholars time to learn more about living in Chicago and find suitable housing in the city for the remainder of the year. The “Boot camp” course involves daily presentations and discussions on various topics of interest to the Scholars. Scholars review three manuscripts, each from a different faculty investigator and visit their lab for a week. They then prepare three short oral presentations in consultation with each of the three laboratories by interviewing the principal investigator (PI) and research lab fellows. Thus, the Scholars learn more about the individual faculty and their lab research, and the faculty interact with the Scholars. Scholars and faculty submit a ranking of preferences, and the Program Directors then help in the assignment of a Scholar to a research laboratory for the remainder of the program. Scholars present posters at national conference, like ABRCMS, during the year.
Program Eligibility Heading link
(1) U.S. citizens, nationals, or permanent residents; (2) Graduated with a biomedically-related baccalaureate degree from an accredited U.S. college or university with the past three years; (3) Not currently enrolled in a graduate degree program; (4) Belong to a group underrepresented in biomedical research, including those from racial or ethnic minorities, those with disabilities, and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Program Support Heading link
UIC PBRC PREP is supported through a generous R25 grant from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of General Medical Sciences, GM121212. Program Directors: Professors Karen Colley and Michael Federle. Program Coordinator: Dr. Bernie Santarsiero (Confidential Email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Participating Faculty Heading link
So who could you potentially work for? Here is a list of participating faculty mentors for the program.
Application Heading link
Applications for 2023 are now OPEN. Please fill out the ONLINE form, or download, complete, and email us the PDF Application form.
Letters of recommendation and official transcripts should be requested and sent directly to email@example.com.
APPLICATION DEADLINE EXTENDED!! Please complete your application and send in all materials by Friday, March 17, 2023 for full consideration. If you have any questions or problems, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download Application Heading link
Download the PDF Application
Please fill it out and email to email@example.com
PBRC-PREP Dates Heading link
Flyer Heading link
UIC PBRC PREP is recruiting the best and brightest students that have a baccalaureate degree to the PREP. Please share this flyer with fellow students, faculty, and staff at your institution.
Current PREP Scholars Heading link
2022 PREP Scholars
Olatunji “TJ” Akande graduated from Illinois State University with a B.S. degree in Biology in May 2021. He is working with Judith Behnsen in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the College of Medicine. His focus is on the inter-bacterial killing systems for Proteus mirabilis, and how they combat other bacteria for better colonization in the gut.
Irene Corona-Avila graduated from Albion College with a B.A. degree in Biochemistry (Minor in Cellular and Molecular Biology) in May 2022. She is working in the laboratory of Deepak Shukla in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science in the College of Medicine. Fascinated by obligate intracellular parasites, Irene is studying the role of host proteins in modulating Herpes virus infections in human corneal cells, and and how various endoplasmic reticulum resident proteins regulate Herpes Simplex Virus type-1 replication and spread.
Fidel Amaha graduate from Illinois State University with a B.S. degree in Neuroscience and a minor in Chemistry. He is working in the laboratory of Kuei Tseng in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology in the College of Medicine. His focus is on alpha-7 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor signaling and how the signaling mechanism can impact the afferent drive and trace fear conditioning with the Prefrontal Cortex, Ventral Hippocampus, and Basolateral Amygdala of male adolescent and adult Sprague Dawley rats.
Ali Almousawi graduated from UIC with a B.S. degree in Neuroscience, and is continuing his studies in the laboratory of Sarah Lutz in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology. He is studying the implications of vascular aging and inflammation on the structure and function of blood-brain-barrier in SARS-CoV-2 with a focus on canonical Wnt/beta-catenin signaling in brain endothelial cells (BECs) and how dysfunctional BECs contribute to neuropathology.
Kathy De La Torre graduated from UI Urbana-Champaign with a B.S. degree in Biochemistry, and is working in the laboratory of Joanna Burdette in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the College of Pharmacy. Her focus is on the effects of ovulation on fallopian tube-derived tumorigenesis and the use of a microfluidic device to simulate ovulation with different preneoplastic cell line models and assess early events in ovarian cancer.
Alberto (Beto) Araiza is continuing as a Senior PREP Scholar and has transitioned to the lab of Elizabeth Glover. He is investigating the extracellular electrophysiological properties of the Rostromedial Tegmental Nucleus and its inhibitory inputs to the Ventral Tegmental Area in the context of alcohol use disorder.
Past PREP Scholars Heading link
2021 PREP Scholars
Sasha Celada graduated from Iowa State University with a B.S. degree in Microbiology in May 2021. She was working with Larisa Nonn in the Department of Pathology in the College of Medicine on a study of the role of vitamin D deficiency in blocking the differentiation of prostate cells to promote prostate cancer and its links to prostate cancer disparities in African American patients. She is currently in the Cellular and Molecular Pathology Graduate Program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Alberto (Beto) Araiza graduated from Illinois State University with a B.S. degree in Biology (minor in Psychology) in May 2020. He was working with Mitch Roitman in the Department of Psychology (Cognitive Neurosciences) in the College of Arts and Sciences. He was studying how thirst and hunger neural circuits selectively and differentially drive motivated behaviors, and specifically the role of the lateral hypothalamic area in relaying signals from the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus to dopamine neurons in the ventral tegmental area that is known for its role in guiding goal-directed behavior. He is a Senior PREP Scholar in Liz Glover’s Lab, Department of Psychiatry, now at UIC.
Skylar Grimsley graduated from Norfolk State with a B.S. degree in Biology (minor in Chemistry) in May 2021. She was working with Rich Minshall in the Department of Anesthesiology in the College of Medicine, and testing the hypothesis that the elevated levels of circulating glycosphingolipids (GLS) in obese patients with breast cancer prime their lung endothelial cells for cancer metastases. If this is the case, then it could explain why obese women are at greater risk for breast cancer metastasis than non-obese women, as GLS are known to stimulate aberrant signaling that promotes cell metastatic behavior. She is currently a graduate student in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Tim Dorsey graduated with a B.S. degree in Biological Sciences from Illinois State University in May 2021. He was working with Joanna Burdette in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the College of Pharmacy. He is studying the mechanisms underlying high grade serous ovarian cancer. Fallopian tube epithelial cells that lack Phosphatase and Tensin homolog (PTEN, a model of the disease) upregulate Lysyl Oxidase 2 (LOXL2), and his study is evaluating whether LOXL2 itself promotes cell tumorigenic behaviors like migration, invasion, and spheroid formation. He continued to work on his project through the summer and is now in the UIC PharmD/PhD program.
Isabel (Izzy) Izquierdo graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. degree in Biology and Society with a focus on Infectious Disease Biology in June 2021. She was working with Nancy Freitag in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the College of Medicine, and is studying a pheromone-responsive operon in Listeria monocytogenes consisting of two Rgg pheromone-responsive transcription factors and a coding sequence for a putative hydrolase that potentially assists the bacteria to grow in infected host cells. She will evaluate the roles of the proteins encoded by this operon to determine whether they play a role in the escape of L. monocytogenes from the host cell vacuole. She is now in the Biosciences Program at the University of Chicago.
Jessica (Jessie) Petrey graduated from Vanderbilt University with a dual B.S. degree in Biological Sciences and Medicine, Health, and Society in May 2021. She is working with Lauren Palmer in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the College of Medicine, and was studying Acinetobacter baumannii, a bacterial pathogen that is the major cause of community and hospital infections of the lung and blood. A. baumannii exhibits multidrug resistance in part because of its ability to make genomic rearrangements that frequently occur via genetic transposition. She is evaluating conditions that induce the expression of transposable genes to understand this bacterial transposition process and potentially identify ways to better treat A. baumannii infections. She has joined the Microbiology Doctoral Training Program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Earon Grinage graduated from Illinois State University with a B.S. degree in Molecular Cellular Biology in May 2020. He was working with Deepak Shukla in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science in the College of Medicine. Earon was studying the mechanisms of herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) infection of the eye by comparing clinical strains of HSV-1 to investigate the virus life cycle, identify viral and host factors essential for the viral life cycle, and explore new antiviral treatment options that target different stages of infection. He is now the Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD) at UIC.
2020 PREP Scholars
Heddy Menendez graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a B.S. degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in June 2020. She was working in the laboratory of Donald Vander Griend in the Department of Pathology in the College of Medicine. Heddy was investigating role of the transcription factor SOX2 in prostate cancer, and more specifically, what role this factor plays in mitochondrial function and stability in murine and human prostatic cancer cell lines. The ultimate goal is to create new strategies to prevent and treat prostate benign prostatic hyperplasia and cancer. Heddy is a graduate student in the Biochemistry, Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology (BMCDB) Program at the University of California, Davis.
Nigina Khamidova graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz with a B.S. degree in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology in June 2020. She was working with Stephanie Cologna in the Department of Chemistry in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. During her time in the Cologna lab, Nigina studied the effects of cyclodextrin drugs on mice with Niemann-Pick Type C1 (NPC1) disease using MALDI-Mass Spectrometry Imaging. NPC1 is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that is characterized by the lack of transport of cholesterol and other lipids and their storage in the lysosome. Previous work has shown that cyclodextrin drugs impact cholesterol homeostasis, lysosome-ER association, and the autophagy-lysosomal pathway in NPC1 cells and may promote cholesterol and lipid transport. She is now a graduate student in the Molecular and Environmental Toxicology Program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Alejandro Cabera-Cortez graduated with a B.S. degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz in June 2020. He was working with Mike Federle in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Center for Biomolecular Sciences in the College of Pharmacy. He was studying how short hydrophobic peptides, shps, are used to regulate gene expression in the human respiratory pathogen, S. pneumoniae D39, through quorum sensing. He has entered the Geobiology program at Caltech and is in the Jared Leadbetter lab.
Irueosa (Osadayi) Ohanmu graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a B.S.degree in Biology in May 2020. They were working with Shura Mankin and Nora Laslop-Vazquez in Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences and Center for Biomolecular Sciences in the College of Pharmacy. Osadayi was studying the mechanisms of antibiotics that target the ribosome. More specifically, they are exploring the mechanism of action of a proline-rich antimicrobial peptide (PrAMP) from the immune system of fruit flies called Drosocin, and how it interacts with the ribosome to inhibit protein synthesis. Osadayi was a graduate student at Rutgers University in Biomedical Sciences but has opted to explore fashion design at Parsons, the New School of Design.
2019 PREP Scholars
Omar Niagne graduated from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, with a B.S. degree in Cell and Molecular Biology in May 2019. His past research experiences include creating a genetic tool to diagnose Bitter Crab Disease in Tanner Crabs and in situ hybridization probes to help track certain activities in anoxia-induced turtles. He was working in Nancy Freitag’s laboratory (Microbiology and Immunology, College of Medicine) as a 2019 Scholar and 2020 Senior Scholar on “Uncovering the Composition of a Bacterial Peptide Pheromone in Listeria monocytogenes that Facilitates its Escape from the Host’s Vacuole.” Omar is now in Graduate School at Stanford University in the laboratory of Mary Beth Mudgett.
Destiny Ogbu graduated from Georgia State University with a B.S. degree in Psychology in May 2019. Her past research project was a cross-sectional analysis using statistics to compare distinct brain regions between pre-diagnosed men and women with Huntington’s Disease. She was working with Jun Sun (Gastroenterology and Hepatology, College of Medicine) as a 2019 Scholar and 2020 Senior Scholar, and is now a graduate student in the UIC GEMS program. .
Reggie Woods graduated from the Ohio State University with a B.S. degree in Microbiology in May 2019. His past research project was on the detection of Parechovirus and Enterovirus among infants evaluated for late-onset Sepsis in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of Nationwide Children’s Hospital. He was working with Mike Federle (Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Center for Biomedical Sciences, College of Pharmacy), and the title of his research project was “Using Genetic Screens to Identify Specialized Metabolites and Quorum Sensing Modulators in Pathogenic Streptococci.” Reggie joined the MSTP (MD/PhD) program at UIC in 2021.
Garrett Williams graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A. degree in Philosophy and Neuroscience in June 2019. His past research experiences include a study of depersonalization and sensorimotor processing at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College, London. He was working with Pauline Maki (Psychiatry, Psychology, and Obstetrics and Gynecology, College of Medicine), and the title of his research project was “The Role of Mitochrondrial Dysfunction in Alzheimer’s Disease Pathology.” Garrett is a Research Associate in a biotech company, Neurobehavioral Systems Inc., in the San Francisco Bay area.
2018 PREP Scholars
Briana Banks graduated with her BS Integrative Biology and a minor in Chemistry from the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign in May 2018. She was working in the laboratory of Alan Diamond (Department of Pathology, College of Medicine) on health disparities in prostate cancer and the role of selenium and SELENOF, a selenium-containing protein, in enhanced prostate cancer susceptibility in African American males: Determining the Morphologies of SELENOF and SELENOF-Deficient Cells. She is a graduate student at the University of Chicago in the Cancer Biology Program and does research in the Matthew Brady laboratory.
KiAundra Kilpatrick graduated with her BS in Biology from Florida A&M University in May 2018. She was working for Joanna Burdette in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy in the College of Pharmacy. Her research is focused on norepinephrine signaling in the metastasis of ovarian cancer: The Role of Norepinpherine in Fallopian Tube Epithelial Cell Recruitment and Primary Metastasis of Ovarian Cancer. She is now a medical students at the Loyola Stritch School of Medicine.
Paula Bazzino graduated with her BS Psychology (cognitive and behavioral neuroscience track) from the University of Florida in May 2018. She was working in the laboratory of Mitchell Roitman (Department of Psychology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences) on the neural basis of normal motivated behavior in feeding and drinking: Induction of Thirst Through Multiple Mechanisms Recruits the Mesolimbic Signaling to Water Cues, and continued her graduate studies in his lab.
Ty Brown graduated with his BS in Biology and a minor in Neuroscience from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington in December 2017. He was working in the laboratory of Alexander Mankin (Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy, College of Pharmacy) on the antibiotic mechanism of proline rich antimicrobial peptides: Optimizing the Antimicrobial Peptide Apidaecin By in vivo Selection. He is a graduate student in MCGD Track (Genetics) at Yale University in Susan Baserga’s lab.