|Tougaloo College students (from l) Courtney Mangum, Rae’Jean Spears and Michael Cleveland meet with Michele Allen, lab manager of NHLBI’s Murine Phenotyping Core.
“In the face of adversity, you must have faith and commitment to succeed,” said Dr. Gary Gibbons, director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to a group of 12 students from Tougaloo College in Jackson, Miss.
Gibbons welcomed the students, who are part of a Jackson Heart Study training program, at the start of their 2-day visit to NIH. He advised the students to work with passion and to surround themselves with mentors and advisers who can provide guidance.
The students asked Gibbons how he managed to stay committed during times of struggle. He opened up to the group with a story about his mother.
“I was raised by someone who faced all of the adversity you could imagine,” he said. “Whenever I got feelings that life had thrown too much at me, I looked at her.”
Tougaloo student Breland Crudup said he was inspired by Gibbons’ journey and his words of encouragement; one day he hopes to intern at NIH.
“He made a place as large as the NIH seem personable,” said sophomore Jessica Torres. “This is where I want to be.”
The students’ visit included tours of the National Library of Medicine, the Clinical Center and NHLBI’s Center for Molecular Medicine. In addition, the visitors heard presentations from leading experts who described current projects under way at NIH. Dr. Danielle Springer also welcomed the students into her lab, the Murine Phenotyping Core, where they were able to see research with mice, talk to lab members and learn about state-of-the-art equipment.
Students also heard from career advisers, alumni and current interns from NIH—all offering advice about preparing for the future.
The Jackson Heart Study is a collaborative effort involving Jackson State University, Tougaloo College and the University of Mississippi Medical Center. The program receives support from NHLBI and NIMHD. The purpose of the program is to train minority students, especially African Americans, to carry out medical research studies such as the Jackson Heart Study.