The mission of the Mayo Clinic Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) program is to train and guide students toward careers in biomedical research. This research includes the continuum from basic laboratory studies to clinical trials.

The program focuses on increasing the number of researchers among groups underrepresented in the biomedical research workforce and encouraging others who have demonstrated an interest in research questions related to these groups.

Through the IMSD program, Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences presents students with a dynamic research experience in a supportive environment characterized by outstanding resources, a cooperative approach to research, and an atmosphere with the highest level of mutual respect among all students and staff.


  • Offer professional development. The IMSD program provides two years of fellowship support and professional development skills at the outset of Ph.D. training. These assets reduce psychological stress and isolation at a majority institution by increasing peer connections and support.
  • Improve communication skills. The IMSD program engages participating students in rigorous oral presentation and grant writing workshops to improve communication skills. Improved oral and written communication skills facilitate success in competitive graduate student fellowship applications, as well as Ph.D. qualifying exams and later professional achievements.
  • Provide ongoing counseling and evaluation. Participants receive continuous counseling and periodic subsequent progress reviews. This process ensures that more than 90 percent graduate with a Ph.D. or M.D.-Ph.D. degree in their intended discipline.

Student development activities

  • Research with a mentor. IMSD predoctoral students conduct research under the supervision of a skilled basic or translational research investigator-mentor and research group.
  • Training in the responsible conduct of research. All Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences students are required to pass the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences course "Responsible Conduct of Research." The course, which meets weekly for 11 sessions during the summer quarter, is attended by the IMSD program manager and directed by an IMSD mentor who is a member of the IMSD internal advisory committee.

    Sessions include a lecture and case study discussion. Lectures focus on key principles that govern the conduct of research, relevant literature, and discussion to strengthen professional standards.

  • Weekly IMSD meetings. Meetings are scheduled for 45 weeks a year (68 contact hours) on Wednesdays from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Meetings are the primary forum for student development, including the opportunity to receive peer criticism in a non-threatening environment.
  • Participation in seminars, journal clubs, and meetings. All IMSD students attend departmental seminars, actively participate in journal clubs, and present research findings in laboratory meetings.
  • Attendance at national research meetings. Travel funds support IMSD student attendance at one national student research conference or national research meeting. This experience offers additional professional development for diverse predoctoral students during the years when Ph.D. students typically do not have access to travel funds.


Luis Lujan, Ph.D., M.S.
Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion
Office for Diversity, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science
Mitchell Student Center
200 First St. SW
Rochester, MN 55905
Phone: 507-266-2912