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FAIRFAX, Va. (July 18, 2011) -Michael Lomax, president and CEO of UNCF (United Negro College Fund), the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization, challenged an audience of African American scientists and science students to make sure that as they build their careers, they also reach out to help younger students get the pre-college education they need to study science in college.   Lomax spoke at the annual 2011 UNCF/Merck Fellows Day, celebrating the 2011 class of 37 African Americans receiving scholarships and fellowships under the UNCF/Merck Science Initiative, a partnership of UNCF and Merck, a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well.

Now in its sixteenth year, UMSI is a twenty-year partnership that has supported over 550 scholarships and fellowships to promising undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral science students pursing careers in biomedical research.  The UNCF/Merck scholarships and fellowships provide the future scientists with financial support, hands-on training, close mentoring and networking relationships, and institutional support.  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.

“Merck’s investment in these promising students and scholars is a major commitment to developing the next generation of researchers, professors, and teachers in biological science and engineering and an investment in longer and better lives for millions of people not only in America but around the world,” said Lomax.  “Merck Fellows and alumni can invest, too, by getting involved to help educate the middle- and high-schoolers of today prepare to become the next generation of African American science majors and graduate students.”

American undergraduate students select natural science and engineering (NS&E) disciplines as their primary field of study at considerably lower rates than their counterparts in other countries, according to the National Science Board’s 2010 report, “Preparing the Next Generation of STEM innovators: Identifying and Developing Our Nation’s Human Capital.” According to the most recent data, only 16 percent of U.S. undergraduates choose an NS&E major, compared to 25 percent of undergraduates in the European Union, 47 percent in China, and 38 percent in South Korea.  The same trend is reflected among students studying STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) as graduate and post-doctoral students.  33 percent of all U.S. STEM doctoral students in U.S. universities, and 57 percent of U.S. postdoctoral STEM fellows are foreign students on temporary visas.  The UNCF/Merck Science Initiative thus represents a substantial continuing increase in the number of African Americans in the STEM fields.

Merck and UNCF began UMSI in 1995 with a ten-year, $20 million grant from the Merck Company Foundation and Merck Research Laboratories.  The project was extended in 2006 with an additional $13 million grant and again earlier this year for $10.6 million over five years.

“Merck’s global philosophy is to hire the best and most qualified talent available to help us develop and deliver novel medicines and vaccines that address unmet medical needs,” said Peter S. Kim, president, Merck Research Laboratories. “We recognize that to achieve breakthrough science and innovation, we need diversity of thought and an inclusive culture so that everyone can contribute and grow to their full potential. Our longstanding partnership with the UNCF is an important element to our success.”

The 2011 UNCF/Merck Fellows receive awards ranging from $25,000 for undergraduate scholarship recipients to $92,000 for recipients of postdoctoral fellowships. In addition, the program’s alumni have organized the Association of UNCF/Merck Fellows to facilitate continued professional growth.  This network allows UNCF/Merck Fellows to collaborate in academia, government and the private sector to leverage their wealth of scientific, technical and biomedical knowledge and experience.

“The UNCF/Merck Science Initiative is more than an award that honors outstanding African American scientists,” said Andra S. Stevenson, Ph.D., a Merck scientist and former UNCF/Merck Postdoctoral Fellow, “It recognizes our commitment as scientists to better the lives of those around us. Being a UNCF/Merck Fellow has opened doors to numerous invaluable opportunities including the position I hold now as a senior biologist at Merck.  Serving in this capacity enables me to work as a member of large program teams that are working toward bringing life-changing treatments and cures to the world and its patients.”

Support from the UNCF/Merck Science Initiative scholarships targets students entering their final undergraduate year, graduate students in their final two-to-three years of dissertation research, and postdoctoral Fellows continuing their research training. African American students in the life, physical and engineering sciences at American four-year colleges and universities are eligible to apply for the scholarship. In addition to scholarships and fellowships, the UNCF/Merck awards may include funding for the science departments at the colleges and universities they attend.  Undergraduate Fellows receive summer research internships at Merck Research Laboratories, where each Fellow is paired with a Merck mentor who provides valuable research assistance, guidance and support.   To learn more about the UNCF/Merck Science Initiative, visit<>.

About UNCF

UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, strengthens its 38 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 900 colleges and universities across the country. . UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs.  UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 21 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. The UNCF  logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized motto, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more at;>.

About Merck

Today’s Merck is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. Merck is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and consumer care and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. Merck. Be well. For more information, visit;>.

About The Merck Company Foundation

The Merck Company Foundation is a U.S.-based, private charitable foundation.  Established in 1957 by Merck, a global healthcare leader, the Foundation is funded entirely by the company and is Merck’s chief source of funding support to qualified non-profit, charitable organizations.  Since its inception, The Merck Company Foundation has contributed more than $600 million to support important initiatives that address societal needs and are consistent with Merck’s overall mission to help the world be well.  For more information, visit;>.


Undergraduate Science Research Scholarship Awards (up to $25,000 each)

Chidiebere Akusobi, Yale University (New Haven, CT)

Maya Bates, Milwaukee School of Engineering (Milwaukee, WI)

Brandyce Coes, Claflin University (Orangeburg, CA)

Stacy Ejem, University of Alabama, Birmingham (Birmingham, AL)

Phillip Geter, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (Baltimore County, MD)

Kerestin Goodman, Albany State University (Albany, GA)

Lamia Harper, Brandeis University (Waltham, MA)

Lakeshia Hyndman, University of Alabama, Birmingham (Birmingham, AL)

Wendell Jones, Francis Marion University (Florence, SC)

Aloysus Lawong, Cleveland State University (Cleveland, OH)

Ariel Murphy, University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL)

Jamaji Nwanaji-Enwerem, Morehouse College (Atlanta, GA)

Rashanique Quarels, Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College (Baton Rouge, LA)

Stara Robertson, Tuskegee University (Tuskegee, AL)

Shavonn Smith, Ursinus College (Montgomery,PA)

Graduate Science Research Dissertation Fellowships (up to $53,500 each)

¨       Ovid Amadi, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)

¨       Angel Byrd,   Brown University   (Providence, RI)

¨       Charles Darkoh, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (Houston, TX)

¨       Nduka Enemchukwu, Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA)

¨       Nicolas Johnson, University of Maryland, Baltimore (Baltimore, MD)

¨       Muyinatu Lediju, Duke University (Durham, NC)

¨       Amanda Martin, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (Minneapolis, MN)

¨       Akil Puckerin, Columbia University (New York, NY)

¨       Nicole Ramsey, Weill Cornell Medical College (New York, NY)

¨       Christopher Smith, John Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD)

¨       Khaleh Thomas, University of South Carolina (Columbia, SC)

¨       Crystal Withers, Duke University (Durham, NC

Postdoctoral Science research Fellows (up to $92, 000 each)

¨    Eilaf Ahmed.Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)

¨    Fatouma Alimirah, Ph.D., Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago, IL)

¨    Candace Carroll, Ph.D., St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (Memphis, TN)

¨    Olugbeminiyi Fadeyi, Ph.D., Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)

¨    Keke Fairfax, Ph.D., Trudeau Institute (Saranac Lake, NY)

¨    Klarissa Hardy., Ph.D.,  University of Washington (Seattle, WA)

¨    Tori Matthews, Ph.D., University of Rochester(Rochester, NY)

¨    Karl Pendergrass, Ph.D., Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA)

¨    Veronica Scott, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)

¨    Venita Watson, Ph.D., Nemours Center for Childhood Cancer Research (Wilmington, DE)