The University of Arizona (UA) High School Student NeuroResearch Program (HSNRP) introduces, trains, and nurtures a growing pipeline of diverse talented Arizona high school students, expanded by select progressing undergraduates, including a majority of underrepresented disadvantaged minorities in basic, translational, and clinical research on the normal and abnormal nervous system, neurological disorders, and stroke, and also encourages pursuit of advanced research experiences and fulfilling health/medical/science-related careers. We are leveraging the strong infrastructure, effective recruitment strategies, high level of student/faculty mentor participation, esprit-de-corps, and outstanding trainee productivity of our long-standing federally funded multidisciplinary/multispecialty disadvantaged high school student, undergraduate, and medical student summer research programs and year-round enrichment activities to energize the training model for this specialized NeuroResearch (NR) program. Fourteen-16 full-time 8-12 week summer high school and 4-6 undergraduate trainees annually for the next 5 years will be offered an expanding menu of closely mentored NR experiences; for retention in the pipeline, select HSNRP trainees will be subsequently reappointed for more advanced NR. Interacting together, these trainees will be integrated into an innovative, internationally recognized inquiry-based Summer Institute on Medical Ignorance (SIMI) which interweaves biomedical Knowns and Unknowns (what we know we don't know, don't know we don't know, and think we know but don't) with featured NR topics and mentor stories and sustains the momentum by periodic enrichment activities year-round. SIMI emphasizes translating translation and scientific questioning and includes a brief Introduction to Pathobiology and the language of medicine, topical seminars, laboratory/leadership/ multimedia skill workshops and practicums, clinical correlations, social networking, and career advising. A unique Virtual Clinical Research Center/Questionarium forms a mobile phone accessible-centerpiece platform for training and national/international networking. Within basic and clinical departments and specialized Centers of Excellence with enhanced Neuroscience emphasis and overseen by an energetic experienced multidiscplinary HSNRP Leadership Team and Advisory Committee, student research will encompass cross-cutting themes and in vivo, in vitro, in situ, in silico, and modeling approaches to neurobiology/disorders including Parkinson, Alzheimer, Niemann-Pick C diseases, ALS, epilepsy, HIV encephalopathy, head trauma, hydrocephalus, muscular dystrophy, pain/addiction pharmacology, molecular psychiatry, cognition, brain development, brain mapping, senescence, mental retardation, blood-brain barrier/neuroprotection, neuroimaging, neuro-genomics/proteomics, neuroengineering, deep brain stimulation, brain tumors, cerebrovascular disease, stroke, neurohealth disparities, and rehabilitation. Based on our ~29-year track record and established access to large diverse pools of disadvantaged Arizona students reflected in 615 SIMI-trained high school students followed to date with many in the basic/clinical NeuroResearch (undergraduate/graduate/ professional degree/biomedical-health career) pipeline, we expect HSNRP to continue to cultivate an expanding network of diverse and curious researchers, physicians and other health professionals; contribute to the NeuroResearch pipeline and enterprise; and improve neurohealth literacy through community engagement. Ongoing short-term and long-term evaluation includes surveys, database registry, curiosity scales, short- and long-term followup, and career portfolios to document efficacy and sustainability of the training model, promote diversity, and national/international networking.
This renewal proposal will continue to develop and expand a model program to recruit, train, and mentor a growing cadre of diverse/disadvantaged (including under-represented minority) high school students and progressing undergraduates in biomedical research broadly targeting neurosciences, neurological disorders, and stroke. Using our inquiry-driven curriculum we will energize a career pipeline to promote networking, retention, and career progression, thereby contributing to NIH's strategic plan of creating the diverse clinical research teams of the future and NINDS's mission of advancing translation of medical discoveries in the neurosciences from bench to bedside to community.