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Brief History/Early Success

In the summer of 2002, nine students formed the first group to benefit from the Program. The success of that first summer is demonstrated by the fact that of the nine students, eight went on to medical school (Einstein and Downstate Medical Schools) or to pursue advanced degrees at Cornell, Columbia, Stony Brook, and Harvard universities. The summer of 2003 saw 16 students enrolled in the Program, with equally impressive results.

Students that summer moved on to Cornell Medical School, research assistantships at Columbia, Sloan Kettering, and Hunter, and graduate Programs at Columbia and Stony Brook. The 2004 Program, with 8 students, the 2005 Program with 11 students, and the 2006 Program with 13 students were equally successful – with four of the students going on to win prizes at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students ("ABRCMS") with the work they did at Columbia. Several students achieved other honors for the work done at Columbia. The program has grown by leaps and bounds since those first summers, training over 300 students over the last 20 years.



The Summer Program for Undergraduate Rising Stars (SPURS) is a Columbia University Pipeline Program. Our mission is to enhancing diversity in science by providing an intensive summer science experience for students.

It is our mission to create diversity of representation among the future ranks of doctors and investigative scientists, focusing on training individuals who have overcome barriers in their educational journey, including those from economically or educationally disadvantaged background. We also seek to train students who have already demonstrated a commitment to diversity. Many of our talented graduates are first-generation college students coming from socially or economically disadvantaged backgrounds. In order for these students to succeed and for society to benefit, it is crucial that we provide the means for these students to gain access to careers in biomedical research and facilitate their understanding of what it means to be a biomedical investigator.

Several of our recent SPURS alumni have gone on to impressive graduate school placements. Ogo Okolo is ready to graduate from medical school at Columbia University (Case Western Reserve University, Mentor: Dr. Wesley Grueber), Kaylee Wedderburn-Pugh (Columbia University, Mentor: Dr. Andrew Marks) matriculated to a combined MD, PhD program at UCSF, Nicolette Moya (University of Colorado at Denver, Mentor: Dr. Kandel) entered a PhD program at Northwestern University, Joshua Barbosa (Emory University, Mentor: Dr. Rene Hen) entered Emory University School of Medicine, and Kenny Igarza (Emory University, Mentor: Dr. Richard Axel) entered a Neuroscience PhD program at Princeton University. These students, and those before and after them have made us all incredibly proud. Time and time again SPURS alumni have cited their experience in the program as the single most important factor in their successful admission to graduate or medical school.


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