News Release

BU researchers awarded NIH grant to help diversify biomedical workforce

Funding will subsidize the cost of participating in the school’s SPIN program and provide stipend support for scholarships

Grant and Award Announcement

Boston University School of Medicine

Contact: Gina DiGravio, 617-358-7838,

BU Researchers Awarded NIH Grant to Help Diversify Biomedical Workforce

Funding will subsidize the cost of participating in the school’s SPIN program and provide stipend support for scholarships

(Boston) — James W. Holsapple, MD, chair of neurosurgery at Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine, Jarrett Rushmore, PhD, assistant professor of anatomy & neurobiology, and Jonathan Wisco, PhD, associate professor of anatomy & neurobiology, have been awarded a R25 grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The five-year, $653,475 award will support student scholarships for the Summer Program in Neuroscience (SPIN).


SPIN is a unique annual eight-week program for undergraduates hosted at Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center. It began in 2016 as a collaboration between the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology and the Department of Neurosurgery, and has expanded to include faculty participants in neurology, health sciences, neuropathology, neuroradiology, neuro-oncology, occupational therapy, pharmacology, speech language and hearing sciences, and neuro-radio oncology. Since the first session in 2016, 10-15 undergraduate students have been selected each summer to participate in a variety of clinical, teaching and mentored research activities designed to enhance their understanding of the brain, medicine, neuroscience and neuroscience research. 


During this program, students learn basic and clinical neuroscience and neuroanatomy in small group sessions with award-winning medical and graduate school neuroscience professors. Neuroscience is presented through hands-on exploration and dissection of human brain material in combination with evaluation of clinical and research cases and brain imaging. For the research component, each SPIN student is paired with a research mentor to conduct a mentored research project, the results of which are presented at a public conference at the end of the program.


In the clinic, SPIN students participate in neurology and neurosurgery inpatient and outpatient services, attend grand rounds, observe brain surgeries and attend case reviews. They attend brain-cutting sessions in the hospital morgue and review radiographic studies with working neuro-radiologists. Together, the integration of didactic, research and clinical perspectives gives SPIN students an unparalleled view of the brain. Alumni have said that SPIN was a life-changing experience that encouraged and helped them pursue further graduate and medical education.


Incorporating individuals with different backgrounds and experiences characterize the best research and health care teams. As such, SPIN seeks to recruit students who are diverse in numerous ways, including but not limited to their educational, social, immigration, cultural, linguistic, economic, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and in their life experiences.


According to Drs. Holsapple, Rushmore and Wisco, “A major goal of our grant and of the SPIN program in general is to recruit and support outstanding and talented individuals from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds, and thereby promote a more inclusive environment in the SPIN cohort, and more broadly in neuroscience research and healthcare.”




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