WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) _ The National Institutes of Health has awarded Winston-Salem State University a five-year grant totaling $2.3 million to help undergraduate students compete for graduate programs leading to Ph.D., medical degrees or a combination of both.

The grant is targeted toward students in the biomedical and bio-behavioral sciences.

Dr. Azeez Aileru, director of WSSU’s Biomedical Research Infrastructure Center, said the school’s Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement program is centered on a model that aims to increase the pool of underrepresented students who gain admission into graduate and professional programs. Aileru said the idea is to develop an educational pipeline from lower to upperclass levels.

The RISE program provides support for academic success and career exploration, among other areas. It was established in 2009 with a grant from NIH.