"Summers in Children's Research" (SCR) at The University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, Steele Children's Research Center, and Diamond Children's Medical Center will offer annually 8 diverse junior/senior high school students and 4 continuing undergraduates from Arizona an exciting educational 8-12 week summer experience in "hands on, brain on" basic and clinical research broadly targeting childhood and developmental disorders and maternal health and health disparities. The multidisciplinary project leadership team includes an internationally renowned pediatrician specialized in children's gastrointestinal disorders (molecular mechanisms and clinical management) joined by an obstetrician-gynecologist focused on community/public health/health disparities, along with an expert in childhood and developmental lymphatic disorders, diversity pipeline research training, and inquiry curriculum innovation. They will together interact with vibrant clinical and basic research programs impacting children's and maternal health. Based on the College of Medicine's highly successful longstanding federally funded multidisciplinary disadvantaged high school student research program drawing large numbers of qualified applicants from around Arizona and also a locally supported Department of Pediatrics high school student summer program, this project will stepwise develop a distinctive SCR curriculum including online components and expanded research experiences encompassing the NICHD mission. Research topics and full-time summer research experiences will range from molecular mechanisms of calcium/phosphate absorption in inflammatory bowel disease and infant diarrheal disorders to genomics and proteomics of Niemann-Pick C disease, epidemiology of pediatric head trauma and substance abuse, and field work in maternal health and sexually transmitted diseases. SCR will involve experienced, enthusiastic faculty and near-peer mentors not only in Pediatrics but broadly representing basic and clinical research impacting children and reproduction and spanning NICHD research directions. The specialized SCR summer curriculum will be incorporated into an innovative face-to-face and online inquiry-based Summer Institute on Medical Ignorance (highlighting Unanswered Questions and Unquestioned Answers and reinforcing core content) for high school students (paralleling the PIs'medical student researcher offering) and features highly interactive elements and the PIs'unique Virtual Clinical Research Center/Questionarium. VCRC/Q is a web-based gridware platform designed to link NIH-CTSAs and GCRCs to the K-12 community, using advanced multimedia technology familiar to teenagers and younger children. The PIs will use peer and near-peer mentoring strategies and surviving/thriving skill sessions to develop attitudes, skills, and behaviors of fruitful, inquiring, and ethical scientists working in collaborative teams along career pathways. Extensive short-term/long-term formative and summative participant and project evaluation, based on ongoing processes and procedures, will be carried out, and successful models and products disseminated nationally for replication in other settings.
This proposal will establish a model summer program to recruit, train, and retain diverse high school students including those under-represented in the broad basic, clinical and translational research area of childhood disorders and development (CHD) and maternal health. Building on an established infrastructure, the PIs will fuel a CHD science/health professions/research workforce pipeline and address related health/science literacy issues in communities, thereby contributing to the NIH Roadmap goals of creating the diverse clinical research teams of the future and NICHD's Strategic Plan to advance translation of medical discoveries regarding children's health, developmental and reproductive health, and disorders from bench to bedside to community practice.