The overall goal of the University of Pittsburgh Short Term Educational Experience for Research (PITTSTEER) in the Environmental Health Sciences for High School and Undergraduate Students is to encourage entry of students into careers in biomedical research and environmental health sciences. PITT-STEER will exploit a mentored focus on respiratory biology, metal toxicology, health disparities and other contemporary aspects of environmental health science. During the 10-week program, students will conduct original research in these areas under the mentored supervision of Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH) and Behavioral Community Health Sciences (BCHS) faculty in our Graduate School Public Health (GSPH). Students will work on problems at the frontier of biomedical science using state-of-the art techniques. Students will also follow a dedicated series of lectures and participate in problem based learning to introduce basic fundamentals of environmental health science and toxicology. Additionally, they will participate in a seminar program designed to further their understanding of the scientific process and critical analysis, and workshop forums on career paths within biomedical research. The long-term goal is to promote scientific training of new investigators that exploits interdisciplinary approaches to address significant research problems in environmental health science. Prospective students will be selected from a large and outstanding pool of candidates of emerging junior and senior high school students in the Pittsburgh Public School system. Access to this group of students will be facilitated by ongoing efforts in a separate research project (Healthy Class of 2010) in which our Center Minority Health in the GSPH has established firm interactive ties with the 9 public high schools in Pittsburgh. Six students per summer will be selected by an administrative committee based on high school transcripts, personal statement and letters of recommendation. The Pittsburgh Public School system has significant underrepresented minority (70%) and disadvantaged youth representation facilitating goals of diversity recruitment. Opportunities will be provided to participate in a second summer experience for outstanding students during their own college undergraduate experience. A core of NIEHS and NIH-HLBI funded, experienced investigators has been chosen as mentors. Ancillary activities will include laboratory safety, and scientific ethics. At the end of the program, each student will present the results of his/her work at a colloquium of participating students and mentors. A certificate will be awarded to all students successfully completing the Program. Longitudinal follow-up will monitor graduate training and career choices elected by student participants in this program and will be compared with that of entering underrepresented minority biomedical graduate students who did not participate in PITT-STEER or similar programs. This tracking will provide an assessment of the ability of the program to achieve its goals.
PITT-STEER will exploit a mentored focus on respiratory biology, metal toxicology, health disparities and other contemporary aspects of environmental health science. The long-term goal is to promote scientific training of new investigators that exploits interdisciplinary approaches to address significant research problems in environmental health science.