Case biology professor-researcher seeks to build pipeline of minority biomedical scientists

An article in the latest issue of New Scientist examines efforts to get people from ethnic minorities into science. “Academic diversity: expanding the pipeline” highlights two success stories, one is that of Case Western Reserve University Asst. Professor of Biology Emmitt Jolly.

The counselor convinced Jolly he could go much further. She took him under her wing, introducing him to the late plant physiologist James H.M. Henderson at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama. The meeting led to a paid summer internship and Jolly fell in love with genetics. “When I walked in there, I said to the professor, “You’re going to pay me to learn?’” recalls Jolly. “For me, it was extremely different. I no longer had to work in a cotton field or at a truck stop.”

Jolly’s academic prowess soon garnered awards that paid for his studies, including a fellowship from the Ford Foundation, which aims to increase racial and ethnic diversity in university faculties, and awards from the UNCF/Merck Science Initiative, which provides African-American students and postdocs with grants.

Jolly is now an assistant professor of biology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. His research explores how gene expression is regulated in a parasitic worm that infects more than 200 million people worldwide. He hopes that it will identify future drug targets.

In 2007, Jolly co-founded and is current president of the Association of Underrepresented Minority Fellows. AUMF is a national professional association of African American biomedical scientists focused on developing a pipeline of underrepresented minority biomedical scientists in the U.S. workforce. Learn more about their mentoring, outreach, and public policy initiatives on the AUMF web site.

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