The primary purpose of the BioStart program is to increase the quality and quantity of area graduates in the medical, biotechnology and life sciences fields with the expectation that many of these students will continue on to earn advanced degrees and participate in the regional workforce as medical professionals, research scientists, teachers and technicians. Major partners in this program include Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center at Shreveport (LSUHSC-S), the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana, and Southwood High School, a public school in Caddo Parish in northwest Louisiana. The program will introduce 25 high school seniors from Southwood's Biotechnology Academy to hands-on, intensive and exciting laboratory research experiences and increase their understanding of the clinical trial process. The participating students and faculty will share these experiences through educational outreach activities that are expected to impact an estimated 250 students, parents, teachers and other segments of the community per year. Specifically, this new, five year Phase I/II SEPA program aims to: 1) Increase knowledge of clinical trials, including medical and life science laboratory practice, research methods, and topics through an internship program whereby high school seniors will conduct a research project under the guidance of a faculty mentor involved in translational and clinical research at LSUHSC-S. Students will attend lectures on specific clinical research topics and careers given by LSUHSC-S faculty and nationally known entrepreneurs and senior management from biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Furthermore, students will present their research by participating in at least one poster session and will apply for at least one regional or national science competition. 2) Increase understanding among parents, teachers, students and interested members of the community of the clinical trial process through exposure and interaction with faculty by attending events and symposia given by LSUHSC-S research faculty and graduate students 3) Increase interest in clinical trials, scientific careers and fields of study among middle school students by implementing the following outreach activities: a) presentations by BioStart interns and faculty of their translational and clinical research to groups of middle school students at Sci-Port Louisiana's Science Center - a local hands-on science activity center;b) participating in annual high school fairs at local middle schools to recruit students to the Biotechnology Academy and BioStart programs;and c) creating and distributing collateral materials that describe the BioStart program, and creating a website with program information, student research and activities, and links to the NIH SEPA website.
(provided by applicant): The BioStart project is relevant to health through its educational activities to increase the public's understanding of clinical and translational research taking place at LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport. By increasing awareness and understanding of clinical trials, there is the expectation that more local residents will participate in these studies. Furthermore, faculty members from LSUHSC-S'Feist-Weiller Cancer Center who participate in the Center for Experimental Cancer Therapeutics (CECAT), will mentor high school students by guiding them in developing research projects relevant to the drug discovery research occurring in their laboratories. Faculty and BioStart student interns will also present their research to the community, including parents, teachers and other students, in a variety of venues.