The Summer Program in Neuroscience, Ethics, and Survival (SPINES) is a four-week long course given at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) with the purpose of increasing the diversity of the research workforce in neuroscience. SPINES has been taught at the MBL for over 20 years. The underlying assumption of the program is that no other experience, except graduate training, has such a profound effect upon a student?s research career, as a summer course at the MBL. SPINES was created to take advantage of the MBL environment and has the following aims: 1) to provide exposure to modern neuroscience concepts through lectures from MBL scientists and visiting faculty about their latest research; 2) to introduce students to successful role models from underrepresented groups as faculty participating in SPINES; 3) to explore responsible conduct of research and more generally to learn about the ethical issues surrounding the influence of science on society; 4) to provide high quality laboratory experiences in neuroscience; 5) to teach professional development skills, which includes topics such as the secrets of obtaining tenure, communications skills, critical reading, dual career couples, diversity in science, health disparities, and strategies for successful grant applications; 6) to educate students about the MBL and its programs so that they may return to participate in another course or program to further enrich their careers; and 7) to provide students with a professional network that includes their fellow students, the faculty of SPINES and others they meet at the MBL. Overall, the course provides much needed training in the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in graduate school, as a postdoctoral fellow, and as a practicing neuroscientist. SPINES is taught by successful scientists, a majority from underrepresented groups, and many who have received awards for their accomplishments in mentoring. Together, the rigorous curriculum taught by accomplished neuroscientists and effective mentors provides students with a unique and career changing experience.
A major challenge faced by the nation is that of health disparities or health inequities. To better facilitate the ability of the nation to address health disparities, it is recognized that there is a need to increase the diversity of the scientific workforce. SPINES is a month-long summer course at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA, a highly respected research institution, that will help assure the success of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and early faculty members from underrepresented groups in the neurosciences.