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Release: Immediate

UI receives $1.6 million biological sciences grant

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa has received a four-year, $1.6 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to advance and improve its biological sciences undergraduate education programs.

The grant is the third consecutive Hughes award of its kind received by the university following a four-year, $1 million grant received in 1994 and a five-year, $1.1 million grant in 1992. UI department of biological sciences professor George D. Cain, principal investigator for the grant, said that the latest award will enable the university to continue to improve and expand education in the biological sciences.

Linda Maxson, dean of the UI College of Liberal Arts, said that the Hughes grant will stimulate all aspects of the university's biosciences initiative.

"This award will allow us to continue a variety of programs designed to expose more students to science and broaden their access to scientific careers. Judging from the responses we receive from students and parents, our programs are very effective in attracting and retaining students from junior high school all the way to the college level," Dean Maxson said.

Under the terms of the grant, the university will:

* Implement a new "Teaching Internship Program" to introduce undergraduate students to the rewards and challenges of teaching by pairing them with graduate assistants in a teaching laboratory environment;

* Begin a new program that extends the university's Upward Bound program with an "immersion" course addressing core science areas;

* Purchase teaching equipment, such as multimedia projectors, computers and laboratory instruments;

* Continue existing programs that provide hands-on laboratory instruction in junior highs and high schools and research experience for university students and high school teachers; and

* Expand a cooperative effort designed to reform the elementary science curriculum and enhance the scientific knowledge base of teachers in eastern Iowa school districts.

"The part I'm most enthused about is the expansion of our supplemental instruction program," Cain said. "We tried this program -- where advanced biology students lead small study groups -- in our introductory course, and it was a huge success. The new grant will allow us to extend the program to general education -- non-majors' -- science courses in chemistry and biology."

The University of Iowa is one of 58 universities, including Princeton, Yale and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to receive a portion of the $91.1 million awarded in 1998 HHMI four-year grants. Since 1988 the Institute has awarded more than $425 million to colleges and universities through its undergraduate grants program, the largest private initiative in U.S. history to enhance undergraduate science education nationwide.

The Institute, established in 1953, is a medical research organization whose principal purpose is the conduct of biomedical research. It employs scientists in cell biology, genetics, immunology, neuroscience and structural biology. More than 330 Hughes investigators conduct medical research in HHMI laboratories at 72 outstanding academic medical centers and universities nationwide. Through its complementary grants program, HHMI supports science education in the United States. Further information about HHMI and the awards is available at:

The University of Iowa College of Medicine has three Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators. Dr. Kevin Campbell, professor of physiology and biophysics, is conducting research on muscular dystrophy; Dr. Val Sheffield, associate professor of pediatrics, is conducting research focused on the molecular genetics of diseases, especially hereditary eye disorders; and Dr. Michael Welsh, professor of internal medicine, is investigating cystic fibrosis.