The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) in Bar Harbor, Maine, proposes a summer research experience for six high school students and undergraduates to pursue basic research in neurobiology, under the mentorship of seven JAX scientists with NINDS grant funding. These experienced mentors are leading cutting-edge, collaborative research programs into neurodevelopment, neuromuscular diseases, and neurodegeneration. The 9-to-11 week residential internship will add a strong focus on neuroscience to the existing JAX Summer Student Program, an internationally recognized research opportunity for college and high school students that annually welcomes 30-40 participants. A weekly stipend, subsistence allotment and travel assistance provided to each intern enables economically disadvantaged students to forgo summer jobs and participate in this life-changing educational experience. The proposed program will offer an intense research internship in neurobiology with a focus on the laboratory mouse as an investigative tool to probe the basic mechanisms of human biology and disease. As a member of a sponsoring scientist's laboratory team, each student will design and conduct an independent, hypothesis-driven project using advanced analysis methods and tools and the outstanding genetic resources available at JAX. A strong emphasis will be placed on ethics education, including mandatory workshops on the ethical conduct of research and the humane treatment of lab animals. The JAX institutional commitment includes student access to intellectual and research resources such as on-campus courses and conferences, state-of-the-art instrumentation and bioinformatics databases, dedicated program direction by the Education Office, and housing in a JAX-owned dormitory overseen by professional staff. The summer program--supported by institutional funds, private foundations, and federal grants--has well-established administrative procedures for recruitment and selection, mentor guidance, and program design, management, and evaluation. The participants will be chosen through a competitive, nationwide application process, and members of underrepresented groups will be strongly encouraged to apply and actively recruited through targeted outreach. JAX offers a stimulating environment in which motivated, talented students from diverse backgrounds can learn the fundamentals of scientific inquiry, contribute to real research progress, and make great strides in intellectual and personal growth that will guide them in career choices and lifelong learning.
The proposed summer research experience in neurobiology will offer students the opportunity to contribute to real research progress in human disease areas such as epilepsy, Rett syndrome, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and peripheral neuropathy. With an emphasis on recruiting students from a wide range of backgrounds, the program will help plant the seeds for future diversity in the scientific, medical, and education workforces. Its alumni will be science ambassadors with a solid grounding in ethics, an appreciation for the challenges and promises of basic human disease research, and zeal to share their love of science for the benefit of society.