Portal to Biomedical Research Careers Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program
About PBRC PREP
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 2021 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 $28K salary.
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. 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.
(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.
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: email@example.com).
So who could you potentially work for? Here is a list of participating faculty mentors for the program.
Applications for 2021 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or mailed to Dean Karen Colley, 628 University Hall (M/C 192), University of Illinois at Chicago, 601 South Morgan Street, Chicago, IL 60607-7106.
Get your applications in by March 12, 2021!!
Download the PDF Application
Please fill it out and email to email@example.com
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
2020 PREP Scholars
Earon Grinage graduated from Illinois State University with a B.S. degree in Molecular Cellular Biology in May 2020. He is working with Dr. Deepak Shukla in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science in the College of Medicine. Earon is 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.
Heddy Menendez graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a B.S. degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in June 2020. She is working in the laboratory of Dr. Donald Vander Griend in the Department of Pathology in the College of Medicine. Heddy is 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.
Nigina Khamidova graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz with a B.S. degree in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology in June 2020. She is working with Dr. Stephanie Cologna in the Department of Chemistry in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. During her time in the Cologna lab, Nigina will determine 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.
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 is working with Dr. Michael Federle in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Center for Biomolecular Sciences in the College of Pharmacy. He will be studying how short hydrophobic peptides, shps, are used to regulate gene expression in the human respiratory pathogen, S. pneumoniae D39, through quorum sensing.
Irueosa (Osadayi) Ohanmu graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a B.S.degree in Biology in May 2020. They are is working with Drs. Shura Mankin and Nora Laslop-Vazquez in Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences and Center for Biomolecular Sciences in the College of Pharmacy. Osadayi is 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.
Our continuing scholars are:
Destiny Ogbu graduated from Georgia State University with a B.S. degree in Psychology in May 2019. She is continuing her work with Dr. Jun Sun in the Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in the College of Medicine. Recent work has linked gut defects and an aberrant microbiome with Lou Gehrig’s disease or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a fatal neurodegenerative disease typically characterized by neuromuscular atrophy. Destiny’s research is focused on the identification of metabolites, gut microbial by-products, that are altered by ALS with the goal of identifying new biomarkers for the disease.
Agnero Cheikh Oumar Nour (Omar) Niagne graduated from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks with a B.S. degree in Cell and Molecular Biology in May 2019. He is continuing his work in Dr. Nancy Freitag’s laboratory in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology in the College of Medicine. Omar’s project is centered around the discovery of a putative toxin in the pathogenic, gram-positive bacteria, Listeria monocytogenes. Preliminary data has shown that this toxin has structural similarities with a well-studied toxin in Clostridium difficile. He is using genetic tools, computational approaches, and assays to understand the role of this toxin is aiding Listeria monocytogenes’ pathogenicity and how toxin expression is regulated.
Past PREP Scholars
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 is presently working in Dr. Nancy Freitag’s laboratory (Microbiology and Immunology, College of Medicine) on “Uncovering the Composition of a Bacterial Peptide Pheromone in Listeria monocytogenes that Facilitates its Escape from the Host’s Vacuole.”
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 is currently working with Dr. Jun Sun (Gastroenterology and Hepatology, College of Medicine).
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 is currently working with Dr. Michael 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.”
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 is currently working with Dr. 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.”
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 Dr. 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 currently a graduate student at the University of Chicago in the Cancer Biology Program.
KiAundra Kilpatrick graduated with her BS in Biology from Florida A&M University in May 2018. She was working for Dr. 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 currently a lab assistant at UIC and applying for entry to MD/PhD programs.
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 Dr. 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. She is currently continuing her graduate students in the laboratory of Dr. Mitchell Roitman.
Tyler 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 Dr. 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 currently a graduate student in Molecular Biology at Yale University.