Wake Forest University School of Medicine to Lead Exchange Program with Brazil

December 20, 2006

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Wake Forest University School of Medicine is the lead United States partner in a new program for university student and faculty exchange between Brazil and the U. S. The program was recently announced by the U.S. Department of Education.

Wake Forest will partner with Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio, and two historically African-American institutions: Central State University in Ohio and Winston-Salem State University. Participants in the program wish to advance the exchange of faculty and students in the biomedical sciences.

A consortium of educational institutions in each country has received a four-year grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). (In the U.S., the grant totals $209,586.) The goal is to provide student interchange including a better understanding of cultural differences. Activities will include development of language skills in Portuguese for the U.S. students studying in Brazil and English for the Brazilian students in the U.S. The focus will be on students in the sciences with courses tailored to their individual programs and a practical research experience.

Debra I. Diz, Ph.D., director of the program and professor in the Hypertension & Vascular Disease Center, says “We recognized that international training of under-represented minority students lags behind that of the general student population. In both the U.S. and Brazil, efforts to increase minority student participation in biomedical research are under way and this program will emphasize our commitment to reducing cultural barriers to these opportunities.”

Azeez Aileru, Ph.D., associate professor at Winston-Salem State University and lead investigator at that institution polled his students in the life sciences, showing that interest for international studies is high. Khalid Elased, R.Ph., Ph.D., will lead the Wright State program, and Willie Houston, Ph.D., will lead Central State’s program.

“Because the global scientific community is becoming more integrated through technology and travel,” said Elased, “we believe it is important to increase the numbers of minority students in these research apprenticeship programs.”

In Brazil, the lead institution is the Federal University of Minas Gerais with secondary partners the University of São Paulo (InCor Heart Institute), Federal University of Rio Grande Do Sul, and São Judas Tadeu College.

For more information about this program, contact Diz, ddiz@wfubmc.edu or visit the Website, http://www1.wfubmc.edu/Hypertension/Home/Debra+Diz.htm. The site will be updated with new information as the program progresses.

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Media Contacts: Jim Steele, jsteele@wfubmc.edu, Karen Richardson, krchrdsn@wfubmc.edu, or Shannon Koontz, shkoontz@wfubmc.edu, at (336) 716-4587.

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, which operates the university’s School of Medicine. U.S. News & World Report ranks Wake Forest University School of Medicine 18th in family medicine, 20th in geriatrics, 25th in primary care and 41st in research among the nation's medical schools. It ranks 35th in research funding by the National Institutes of Health. Almost 150 members of the medical school faculty are listed in Best Doctors in America.

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