Most children in school are attracted to science, but only few persist to pursue research as their adulthood career. Even fewer enroll in a graduate PhD or MD/PhD degree, and of these only a relative handful chooses an academic career path. Studies investigating persistence of students in science agree on the importance of hands-on laboratory experience. Vitally, and as we prioritize on precision medicine, the workforce of the future will have to be receptive and prepared to embrace the notions of transdisciplinary and intersectionality over that of individualism. These are difficult concepts to teach in schools wher the didactic material is segmented into subjects and student performance is marked by grades. This results in the student perceiving personal strengths and weaknesses in different fields, which inevitably will reflect in their choices of colleges, majors and adulthood careers. The scope of this application is to take our existing summer student research agenda to the next level with the Futures Matter Program, a 10-week summer research experience on the campus of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus Ohio. Our reshaped and expanded program will be specifically designed to expose talented students from local high schools to transformative real-life transdisciplinary research in areas aligned with the NICHD priority areas and mission. The Futures Matter Program will leverage our existing community outreach programs to attract underserved students who are an underrepresented minority, economically disadvantaged, and/or disabled. A total of 20 students are planned for the Futures Matter Program with 13 students directly supported from this grant. The organizational structure of The Research Institute into Centers of Emphasis and the proposed structure of the expanded Future Matter Program is ideally suited to provide 1) a high-quality, individual hands-on science experience in state-of-the-art research facilities; 2) exposure to discussions and interactions among researchers with different trainings, skills and opinions yet working together productively, and collaboratively; 3) exposure to educational seminars led by faculty and year-round trainees and 4) additional age-appropriate activities designed to enrich the experience. The complexity of pregnancy, birth and transition to childhood through the neonatal period requires analytic models capable of integrating large sets of biological data along with external modifiers operating dynamically together and over time. What results from these data will need to be practically useful and easily translatable into changes to old practices, new practices and clinica trials. In pregnancy and child-health related research, there is a need to grow a diverse workforce that in addition to in depth knowledge in one field is also willing to explore without fer wide areas of knowledge and seek, motivate and broker additional expertise in many scientific disciplines including bioinformatics.
Integration of biological data with bioinformatics at the level required precision medicine the medicine of the next century will depend on training a generation of scientists ready to embrace the notions of transdisciplinarity and intersectionality over individualism. This proposal seeks to provide a transformative 10- week summer research experience that will encourage high school students to pursue careers that will help advance progress in pregnancy-and child health related research. Attracting more underrepresented minorities to the pursue research in maternal and child health has the potential to cut down on health disparities in the long term.