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Graduate Student Receives Prestigious United Negro College Fund/Merck Graduate Research Fellowship

Aug. 11, 2012

Alicia Thomas Barr, a graduate student in the department of pharmacology and toxicology at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), is the recipient of a United Negro College Fund (UNCF)/Merck Science Initiative graduate research fellowship.

Barr’s research projects are aimed at using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate pharmacological questions. She is studying the effects of chemotherapy on cognition, brain function and brain connectivity in breast cancer patients and in a rodent model of breast cancer. Another project analyzes the changes in brain activity and functional connectivity in rats exposed to marijuana constituents.

Barr earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biomedical engineering from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2001. She completed a Master of Science degree, also in biomedical engineering, at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., in 2003. After spending several years in the diagnostic imaging industry, Barr joined the neuroscience program at MCW.

“Ms. Barr is among a select group of the nation’s brightest science students, and this award will allow her to continue building her career in the biomedical sciences,” said Alan Bloom, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and toxicology and Barr’s faculty mentor.

The UNCF/Merck Science Initiative, a partnership of UNCF and Merck, a global healthcare company, awarded scholarships and fellowships to 37 African American students of biological science and engineering.

The goal of the UNCF/Merck Science Initiative is to support a pipeline of minority students by engaging and attracting them to careers in science, technology, engineering and math. Recipients are chosen through a competitive application process that selects candidates based on their academic achievements and potential in the fields of biomedical research and engineering.

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