The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), a non-profit mammalian genetics research institute in Bar Harbor, Maine, proposes a Short-term Research Experience Program for six undergraduates a year to pursue summer research internships in cancer genomics and biology. The students will be mentored by seven faculty members of the NCI-designated JAX Cancer Center (JAXCC) who conduct integrative cancer-focused research in such areas as cancer stem cell biology, genomic instability, computational biology, and cancer progression in """"""""humanized"""""""" xenografted mouse models. The research environment at JAXCC is evolving in exciting directions under a new director, with an emphasis on innovative approaches in cancer genomics, systems biology and pharmacology, and translational genomic medicine. The 11-week residential internships will exist as a dedicated, cancer-focused program that leverages the administrative framework of the JAX Summer Student Program (SSP), an internationally recognized research opportunity in mammalian genetics for college and high school students. Financial assistance provided to each intern will enable economically disadvantaged students to forgo summer jobs and participate in this life-changing experience. The program will offer an intense internship in cancer research with a focus on two approaches that make the JAXCC environment unique: access to the world's leading resource of mouse models to probe the basic mechanisms of human cancer, and use of powerful bioinformatics/computational biology tools pioneered and maintained at JAXCC for cancer genomics research. Each student will design and conduct an independent, hypothesis-driven project as a member of a mentor's laboratory team. A strong emphasis will be placed on ethics education and professional development training in such areas as presentation skills and career guidance. Institutional commitment includes student access to intellectual and research resources such as on-campus courses and conferences, state-of-the-art instrumentation, dedicated program direction by the Education Office, and housing in a JAX-owned facility overseen by professional staff. The residential requirement of the program will be essential to its success, as students are immersed in a supportive community of science-minded peers, share an extended learning environment with mentors and research staff beyond the lab, and live, dine, and enjoy recreational activities together. The proposed program will benefit from proven procedures of the existing SSP for student recruitment and selection, mentor guidance, and program design, management, and evaluation. Interns will be chosen through a competitive, nationwide application process that will identify students with a primary interest in cancer research. Members of underrepresented groups will be strongly encouraged to apply and actively recruited through targeted outreach. JAXCC offers a unique environment in which motivated, talented students from diverse backgrounds can learn the fundamentals of scientific inquiry and contribute to basic cancer research that underlies advances in treatment and prevention.

Public Health Relevance

The proposed Summer Research Experience in Cancer Genomics &Biology for Undergraduates will offer students the opportunity to contribute to basic research progress that enables advances in cancer treatment/prevention and improvement in the quality of life for cancer patients. With an emphasis on recruiting undergraduates from a wide range of backgrounds, the program will 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 cancer research, and a zeal to share their love of science for the benefit of society.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Education Projects (R25)
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Subcommittee G - Education (NCI)
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Korczak, Jeannette F
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Jackson Laboratory
Bar Harbor
United States
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Lawlor, Nathan; Fabbri, Alec; Guan, Peiyong et al. (2016) multiClust: An R-package for Identifying Biologically Relevant Clusters in Cancer Transcriptome Profiles. Cancer Inform 15:103-14
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