In 1992, Professor Philip A. Gottlieb (FAC88-95) of the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at the University of Delaware received a five-year $1 M grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to develop an Undergraduate Biological Sciences Education Program. One of the components of the award involved the development of a program to assist in recruiting and retaining African American, Latino, Native American, and other underrepresented students majoring in the sciences. This goal was achieved in 1993 with the inception of the NUCLEUS (Network of Undergraduate Collaborative Learning Experiences for Underrepresented Scholars) Program. The acronym, which has special significance in both biology and chemistry, came out of a conversation between Ms. Victoria Orner, the first NUCLEUS coordinator, and Professor Colin Thorpe. Victoria guided the NUCLEUS Program through 1997, when there was a hiatus in HHMI funding. She was also a recipient of a University of Delaware Excellence in Advising Award in 1997.

In 1998, a second HHMI grant in the amount of $1.6 M was awarded to the University of Delaware with Professor Harold B. White as Project Director and Professor David Usher (BISC Dept.) as Asst. Project Director. Drs. White and Usher have continued to guide the HHMI program through a third ($1.7 M) and now a fourth ($1.5M) Howard Hughes grant that will extend into 2010. In 1998, Dr. Cherie Dotson became the NUCLEUS Coordinator, a position she held until 2005 when she moved to the University of Michigan. Dr. Zakiya Wilson served as the NUCLEUS Coordinator from December 2005 through November 2006, when she returned to Louisiana State University. Since December 2006, Ms. Jacqueline (Jackie) Aldridge has served as the NUCLEUS Coordinator.

In 2002, with the support of the College of Arts and Sciences, the HHMI and NUCLEUS offices moved to renovated space in 106 Brown Laboratory overlooking the Green. At that time, the office began administering an NIH Bridges to the Baccalaureate program in partnership with Delaware Technical and Community College.

In addition to the NUCLEUS Program, the HHMI grants have supported very successful Undergraduate Research Program and curriculum development initiatives in the biomedical sciences.
— Harold B. White