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Underrepresented minority students receive fellowships in digestive disease and nutrition research

Bethesda, MD (May 17, 2013) Illustrating a commitment to the support of underrepresented minority researchers, the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Research Foundation has announced the inaugural AGA Investing in the Future Student Research Fellowship Award recipients. Supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), this new award helps underrepresented minority students to further their research careers in digestive disease and nutrition research.

"By establishing this new award, AGA demonstrates its commitment to fostering and promoting the involvement, advancement and recognition of underrepresented minorities within the GI community," said Byron Cryer, MD, chair of the AGA Underrepresented Minorities Committee. "We are honored to recognize and award these outstanding students, and we hope this award stimulates excitement among underrepresented minorities who are committed to the research and practice of gastroenterology and hepatology."

The AGA Institute established the Investing in the Future Student Research Fellowship program in 2013 after receiving a competitive NIDDK R25 grant for education projects. With this support, AGA will provide 10 honorees with $5,000 to perform eight to 10 weeks of research related to digestive diseases and nutrition. The stipend will cover lodging and travel for the students, as well as a stipend for expenses. In this way, the AGA hopes to stimulate an interest in gastroenterological research and to provide these students with the experience they need to gain admittance into GI training programs.

The 2013 Investing in the Future Student Research Fellowship Award recipients are:

  • Oluwapese M. Akinbobola, Ohio University, Columbus
  • Joseph Acquaye, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, TN
  • Felipe Ayala, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
  • Rafaella Kazaoka, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Ermmet Lopez, University of Puerto Rico, San Juan
  • Christian Mpoy, Hofstra University, Hampstead, NY
  • Julius Musenze, Ohio University, Athens
  • Sophia Noguera, University of Wisconsin, La Crosse
  • Mariana Rivera, University of Georgia, Athens
  • Whitney Williams, Davidson College, NC

These highly qualified students will have the opportunity to work directly with the Investing in the Future mentors, top investigators in the fields of gastroenterology and hepatology who have expressed their commitment to improving the pipeline of underrepresented minority researchers. To view the full Investing in the Future mentor roster, visit

This award shines light on African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives and Natives of the U.S. Pacific Islands from accredited U.S. institutions. Winners were selected by the Investing in the Future mentors and the AGA Research Awards Panel.

Contact: Rachel Steigerwald
American Gastroenterological Association

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