Welcome.

The Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity (IMSD) at Vanderbilt University exists to increase the number of PhDs awarded to graduate students in biomedical research who are underrepresented in medicine.  The program is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and has been in existence at Vanderbilt since 2000.  Our approach is multi-faceted and emphasizes extensive and careful mentoring at all stages.

The IMSD program differs from traditional graduate programs in several ways:

1) holistic evaluation of applicants, with emphasis on research experience
2) one or two year program with extensive academic support and mentoring to develop student skills and self-confidence 
3) summer lab exposure prior to beginning coursework
4) opportunities in translational medicine
5) development of student leadership skills

Students joining the Vanderbilt IMSD program typically enter our large first year Interdisciplinary Graduate Program (IGP) in biomedical research which is composed of seven participating departments (BiochemistryBiological SciencesCancer Biology, Cell and Developmental BiologyPharmacologyPathology, Microbiology and Immunology, and Molecular Physiology and Biophysics) as well as Programs in NeuroscienceHuman Genetics, and Chemical Physical Biology (CPB).  Some IMSD students also enter the Quantitative and Chemical Biology Program , a smaller umbrella first year program that leads to students joining any of the above departments and programs as well as Chemistry and Physics after completing their first year.

The Vanderbilt IMSD program currently serves approximately 50 students in all phases of their graduate training. The attrition rate from this program is extremely low (<5%). Our graduates go on to develop careers in academic research, obtaining positions as postdoctoral fellows at leading research universities around the country, as well as in biopharma and in other areas (public policy, college teaching, etc).  We encourage you to explore the pages of this website to find out more about the Vanderbilt IMSD program and how we can help you successfully achieve your career goals in biomedical research.

“The IMSD is a very highly flexible program that provides all the benefits of the IGP program.In addition the IMSD program provides additional tools that guide you through the first of year of graduate school.”

 “It helps maximize the student diversity in the research area as well as preparing us for what the real world research programs are like. Helps you use your resources to your advantage to gain the insight and networking needed to survive in the competitive research world.”