Keystone Symposia receives grant for its diversity efforts |

Keystone Symposia receives grant for its diversity efforts

summit daily news
Special to the Daily/Keystone Symposia

To aid with its diversity initiatives, Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology received a $1.37 million, five-year “Minority Access to Research Careers” grant from the National Institutes of Health.

“This is the biggest national grant we’ve ever received,” said Keystone Symposia’s chief scientific officer Andy Robertson.

Head-quartered in Silverthorne, Keystone Symposia is an educational and life-science conferencing nonprofit, and it’s been conducting internationally renowned, open scientific conferences since 1972.

Robertson said the grant will allow the nonprofit to financially support minority students and scientists to encourage their attendance at Keystone Symposia meetings.

“There’s recognition among leadership that the bio-medical community doesn’t include much ethnic minorities,” Robertson said. “That’s a problem for two reasons – first, a lot of the health questions that might be relevant to minority groups aren’t getting asked or addressed; and second, we’re probably not doing the quality of (scientific research) we could if we got more perspectives. Everybody would agree that if you’re doing problem solving, there should be lots of different backgrounds looking at the problems.

“It changes our research when people who haven’t been historically represented talk. Based in Summit County, we are in a remarkable position to really change the face of bio-medical research in the whole country.”

Robertson anticipates that over the next five years, the Keystone Symposia will be able to give at least 250 scholarships for trainees to come to Keystone Symposia conferences, half of which are located in Summit County. The grant will also likely support another 25-30 “newer investigators” to enter into the nonprofit’s fellows program.

“We’ll bring in assistant professors interested in diversity,” Robertson said. “They get to shadow they way we develop our meetings. It lets them see the inner workings of high-level bio-medical research.”

Heather Gerhart, Keystone Symposia’s grants coordinator, noted that part of the funding will be used for outreach to minorities in the scientific community to make sure they’re aware of these opportunities.

More information on Keystone Symposia can be found at

Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at

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