Program Information

The University of California, Davis - home to the largest number of biologists on a single campus in North America is proud to offer support to outstanding underrepresented students entering doctoral programs in the biomedical sciences through the National Institutes of Health-Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (NIH-IMSD). Our Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) program is currently in its 20th year (2018) and supports both undergraduate and graduate students. The overall goal of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) IMSD program is to increase the number of students from groups underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral sciences who complete Ph.D.'s in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. The UC Davis IMSD is funded by a grant from the (NIGMS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

For undergraduates the IMSD program is used to support several important programs including the Biology Undergraduate Scholars Program (BUSP). For those interested in the undergraduate component of the IMSD program please visit the Educational Enrichment & Outreach Programs.


During their first year as a Ph.D. student, each NIH-IMSD Fellow will receive a stipend for living expenses plus all tuition and student fees. This stipend will be provided in partnership with their graduate program. An additional four years of support will be available through a variety of resources including research assistantships, teaching assistantships, or other forms of graduate student support, assuming satisfactory progress is being made toward earning the Ph.D. degree.

The IMSD program builds connections between IMSD Fellows and other student and faculty colleagues in the life sciences. During a summer bridge program, which starts in August preceding the first year of graduate school, Fellows will spend seven weeks conducting research in the laboratory of a faculty member and meeting weekly as a group. A seminar class is taught during the academic year by a faculty member on the program's steering committee. It includes activities focused on enhancing scientific writing and oral presentation skills, instruction on computer and library search techniques, experimental design, and modern issues in biomedical sciences.


To add to the value of their academic experience at UC Davis, IMSD fellows participate in academic enrichment opportunities both on- and off-campus and will participate in other meetings and serve as mentors for newer cohorts.


Mentorship by faculty in the laboratory setting is augmented by peer mentoring. IMSD fellows  develop personal and professional relationships with fellow researchers. IMSD fellows also learn to provide guidance and mentorship to undergraduate and prospective students through participation in campus outreach activities.


Established in 1908, UC Davis has vastly broadened in scope. Today, campus programs encompass the biological & environmental sciences, arts & humanities, social sciences, physical sciences, and engineering. Additionally, professional degree and credential programs are available through the School of Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine, School of Nursing, School of Law, Graduate School of Management, and Division of Education. The campus offers graduate students an especially rich array of resources in the biological sciences.


Applicants must be entering PhD students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents that have been shown to be underrepresented in health-related sciences on a national basis. This includes individuals from underrepresented racial & ethnic groups and/or individuals with disabilities.


Students do not have to apply to the IMSD Fellowship. The graduate programs [e.g., Molecular, Cellular & Integrative Physiology; Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology; Biomedical Engineering; Biophysics; Immunology; Integrative Genetics & Genomics; Microbiology; Neuroscience; Nutrition Science; Pharmacology; Psychology] identify and nominate newly admitted students who qualify for the fellowship. However, students who are interested are encouraged to e-mail Dr. Gomes or Dr. Horwitz their interest in the program, indicating the Graduate Group to which they have applied.