Johns Hopkins University: Johns Hopkins Medicine Welcomes Inaugural Vivien Thomas Scholars Cohort

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For the first time, Johns Hopkins Medicine and The Johns Hopkins University have welcomed a group of 20 scholars who were selected to be part of the Vivien Thomas Scholars Initiative, a $150 million movement backed by Bloomberg Philanthropies that aims to diversify scientific fields through education opportunities for diverse students.

The Vivien Thomas Scholars Initiative was announced in May of last year. During the next six years, it will provide funding for 100 selected students pursuing a Ph.D. in one of Johns Hopkins Medicine’s and The Johns Hopkins University’s more than 30 STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs. Each student will receive full financial and academic support, including six years of full tuition, stipends, insurance benefits, and mentorship with some of the world’s top scientists.

The program is named after celebrated Black scientist Vivien Thomas, L.L.D., who helped develop a life-saving cardiac surgery technique to treat blue baby syndrome at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. A research and surgical assistant at the hospital before receiving an honorary doctorate from The Johns Hopkins University, Thomas also became a surgery instructor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The scholars initiative embodies Thomas’ legacy in its goals to address lack of diversity in STEM careers and fields by creating education and career opportunities for students from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and minority serving institutions (MSIs). Along with providing funding for Ph.D. studies, the initiative will create and expand STEM-based opportunities at Johns Hopkins, including post-baccalaureate and research-intensive summer programs, and collaborations with six HBCU and MSI colleges to expand and run the Vivien Thomas Scholars Initiative.

This year’s Ph.D. students come from diverse personal and educational backgrounds across the United States and beyond. Of the 20 scholars, the following 11 will work directly with Johns Hopkins Medicine departments during their time in the program.

· Ime Essien, Biomedical Engineering
Undergraduate institution: Morgan State University

· Kodi Harris, Human Genetics and Molecular Biology
Undergraduate institution: Morehouse College

· David Horsey, Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology
Undergraduate institution: University of Maryland, Baltimore County

· Victor Omoniyi, Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Undergraduate institutions: University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Prince George’s Community College

· Uche Onuchukwu, Human Genetics and Molecular Biology
Undergraduate institution: University of Maryland, Eastern Shore

· Bassil Ramadan, Biomedical Engineering
Undergraduate institution: University of Arizona

· Cynthia Schofield, Neuroscience
Undergraduate institution: University of Massachusetts Boston

· Orian Stapleton, Biomedical Engineering
Undergraduate institution: University of the Virgin Islands

· Joel Darryl Tueam, Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Undergraduate institution: New Jersey City University

· Sierra Williams-McLeod, Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Undergraduate institution: Hampton University

· Carlos Villapudua Gastelum, Biomedical Engineering
Undergraduate institution: University of La Verne

These students participated in orientation events on Friday, Aug. 19, and Monday, Aug. 22, in downtown Baltimore and in Mount Washington. They will begin their studies at the start of the 2022–2023 school year.

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