Two from MSU selected for UMMC-GTEC Scholars Program

A doctoral student and a recent graduate of Mississippi State University are selections for the Robert Smith, M.D. Graduate Scholars Program, part of the Jackson Heart Study Graduate Training and Education Center at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

Nicole Reeder
Studio portrait of Nicole Reeder
(photo by Beth Wynn / © Mississippi State University)

Nicole K. Reeder, a food science, nutrition and health promotion doctoral student from Columbus, and Torrye R. Evans II, a spring 2020 magna cum laude biological sciences/pre-medicine graduate from Jackson, are joining the UMMC-GTEC program’s second cohort. Reeder holds an MSU master’s in food science, nutrition and health promotion, and Evans is entering medical school at UMMC this fall. In addition to MSU and UMMC, the cohort includes students from the universities of Mississippi and Southern Mississippi.

Included in the National Institutes of Health-funded Jackson Heart Study, the country’s largest community-based study of cardiovascular disease risk factors in African Americans, UMMC-GTEC is an intense, two-year research training and mentoring program. Designed for doctoral and health professional students considering careers in cardiovascular health sciences, the didactic program involves participants in the research process alongside mentors from leading research institutions.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, students in the second cohort will take part in a July 27-31 online summer institute.

Scholars commit to the five-day training institute for two consecutive summers, one mid-year meeting, quarterly webinars and travel to the Jackson Heart Study Vanguard Center at Johns Hopkins University. Their regular interaction with senior researchers and mentors will include guidance on how to write peer-reviewed manuscripts, conduct analyses, and make scientific presentations.

UMMC-GTEC applicants must be doctoral and health professional students at MSU, UM, UMMC, USM or Jackson State University. In addition to being U.S. citizens or permanent residents, applicants must be from a group identified by the NIH as underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral and social sciences.

“Mississippi has been a rich source of talent, creativity and innovation for our nation, and UMMC-GTEC is investing in promising doctoral students who are interested in careers in biomedical research,” said Marino Bruce, the new principal investigator and co-director for UMMC-GTEC. “Our goal is to help develop a cadre of scholars from underrepresented backgrounds who can have distinguished careers in cardiovascular science in particular and health science in general.”

New UMMC-GTEC Co-director Roland J. Thorpe Jr. said, “Complementary to the scholars existing graduate training, this program will create a diverse community of scholars who will embrace all aspects of the research process to prepare evidence-based information to inform health-promoting strategies and policy-relevant solutions for all residents of Mississippi.”

Torrye Evans II (Photo submitted by MSU)

Smith, for whom the scholars program is named, is a Terry native and nationally respected founder of the Medical Committee for Human Rights. As part of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, this organization successfully persuaded health care institutions across the South to expand access to health services for and end unequal treatment of African Americans. He founded the Mississippi Family Health Center, now Central Mississippi Health Services, in 1963 and remains a practicing physician. For more on the Robert Smith, M.D. Graduate Scholars Program, visit

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at


Written by Mississippi State

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