DULUTH (02/13/2023) — The University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth Campus received a $750,000 award from the Genentech Innovation Fund to support the creation and operation of the Gateways to Medicine and Research Master of Science degree program. The award will support recruitment efforts focused on Native students from the Upper Midwest and provide scholarships covering full tuition, along with cultural and learning support for the Indigenous students enrolled in the program.

“As a sovereign people, Native Americans need greater autonomy and control of their health care. There needs to be more representation of Native Americans in clinics and in academic medicine. The Gateways program will provide a nurturing environment with regional and national visibility to recruit and retain students with a vested interest in promoting better health and vitality for the Native American communities,” said Dr. Benjamin Clarke, PhD, a professor at the U of M Medical School, Duluth Campus and member of the Grand Portage Band of Minnesota Chippewa Tribe.

The new Master of Science degree program will have two tracks: a one-year medical track for students interested in health professions and a two-year research track in biomedical sciences. The program aims to increase access of underserved students to biomedical science careers in Minnesota by training the next generation of healthcare workers and research professionals serving Minnesota communities. 

The U of M Medical School Duluth Campus has a 50-year history of training physicians who serve rural, Indigenous and underserved communities. While the Duluth Campus ranks second nationally for graduating Native physicians, few of these graduates are from Minnesota. This program aims to create pipelines to attract and retain Native students from the region to MD or PhD programs. Along with academic enrichment, these programs will provide Native students: 

  • 100% tuition support
  • Individualized mentoring
  • Sense of belonging in a culturally supportive community
  • Support in transitioning to MD or PhD programs within the U of M Medical School

The program is currently under development. It is expected to begin in the fall of 2023.

The Genentech award was spearheaded by Drs. Clarke, Pedro Fernandez-Funez, Lynne Bemis and Jean Regal with support of the Department of Biomedical Sciences and the Medical School Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.


About the University of Minnesota Medical School
The University of Minnesota Medical School is at the forefront of learning and discovery, transforming medical care and educating the next generation of physicians. Our graduates and faculty produce high-impact biomedical research and advance the practice of medicine. We acknowledge that the U of M Medical School, both the Twin Cities campus and Duluth campus, is located on traditional, ancestral and contemporary lands of the Dakota and the Ojibwe, and scores of other Indigenous people, and we affirm our commitment to tribal communities and their sovereignty as we seek to improve and strengthen our relations with tribal nations. For more information about the U of M Medical School, please visit med.umn.edu

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