Colby among institutions to continue to receive funds for faculty and student research experiences

The Mount Desert Island (MDI) Biological Laboratory has been awarded $18 million from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, an institute of the National Institutes of Health, to continue the 18-year-old Maine INBRE (IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence) program for another five years.

Colby is one of the 13 INBRE members composed of educational and research institutions in Maine. Colby’s INBRE sub-award provides funds for faculty research and for student mentorship. It also supports major instrumentation cores and facilities, like Colby’s Genomic Sequencing Core and Microscopy and Imaging Core.

Jocelyn Thomas '16

After a research experience at The Jackson Laboratory as a student, Jocelyn Thomas ’16 is now a full-time research assistant at the leading biomedical research institution.

“INBRE programming has been instrumental in energizing biomedical science research at Colby,” said co-director of Colby’s INBRE program and the J. Warren Merrill Associate Professor of Biology Andrea Tilden. “Over the past fifteen years, the grant has provided the College with over $6.5 million to support faculty career development and research programs, and to provide students with on- and off-campus mentored research experiences.

Faculty, along with their student mentees, can receive academic-year funding for their research through INBRE. Junior faculty are also eligible for “Investigator Awards,” giving up to $90,000 of research funding per year for up to five years. Currently, Associate Professor of Biology Ron Peck is a recipient of an Investigator Award. In the past, Associate Professor of Chemistry Kevin Rice, Associate Professor of Psychology Melissa Glenn, and Associate Professor of Biology Tariq Ahmad received this award too.

Students also benefit from INBRE. In INBRE’s Short Course Program, 12 Colby students collaborate with scientists at the MDI Biological Laboratory, doing research related to aging and regenerative medicine over Jan Plan. INBRE also enables at least eight Colby students to pursue summer research with faculty. Furthermore, it allocates two additional fellowships, allowing Colby students to work at other INBRE network institutions, including The Jackson Laboratory.

“Major outcomes of INBRE support include enriched science experiences for students, numerous faculty-student co-authored manuscripts, the establishment of our highly successful neuroscience programming, and the emergence of our newer computational biology/genomics programming,” Tilden said. “INBRE-funded programming has provided opportunities that make students highly competitive for opportunities beyond Colby such as graduate and medical school.”

James A. Coffman, director of the Maine INBRE and associate professor at the MDI Biological Laboratory said in a press release that the renewal will allow the laboratory to continue a very successful program to create biomedical research and research training opportunities across the state, and especially among undergraduate partner institutions.  “Maine INBRE provides opportunity where it does not otherwise exist,” Coffman said.