Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD)

The IMSD program was established in 2008 at UCSD and is funded by the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). The goal of the IMSD program is to motivate, mentor, and facilitate the transition of students from disadvantaged economic and social backgrounds and students with disabilities from college education to Ph.D. programs in the sciences. The UCSD-IMSD program is composed of three consecutive phases starting with training during the first years of a student’s college education, followed by hands-on research experience, and ending with the awarding of a Ph.D. degree in biomedical sciences.

Phase 1. Basic Methodology Training Laboratory (BMTL): Students with no or limited prior research experience are introduced to scientific work via fundamental experimental instruction within the BMTL. In this setting, students learn the essential research principles and skills (laboratory safety, basic techniques, data collection, and analysis) that will prepare them to participate in organized independent research projects. During the 14 week training period, students learn several state-of-the art techniques and participate in a small research project under the supervision of an advanced graduate student.

Phase 2. Independent Research Project: Students participate in hands-on, bench research projects under the mentorship of established, well-funded investigators. Students are trained in several aspects of science, including experimental design, execution, data analysis and presentations, which increase their competitiveness as graduate school candidates. Students participate in an independent research project as well as typical laboratory activities, such as group meetings and journal clubs. Students are encouraged to present their projects at national meetings or in peer-reviewed publications. Scholars are assisted in the preparation of strong graduate school applications.

Phase 3. Graduate School Education: Students that enroll into a UCSD graduate program in the areas of biomedical research, biological sciences, neuroscience, bioengineering, and bioinformatics are supported during their first year of graduate education and assisted in their applications to individual fellowships and in the search for professional activities upon graduation, such as postdoctoral training.