This is a renewal application of the remarkably successful Neurogenetics Undergraduate Summer Research Program in the Center for Genomic Medicine (CGM) at Massachusetts General Hospital. This program was originally funded in 2010 using ARRA summer supplements awarded to existing NINDS-funded grants that I `bundled' to create a unique, focused training program. We formed an alliance with Eckerd College, a small undergraduate liberal arts college in St. Petersburg, Florida, to offer summer research opportunities to incoming junior and senior students. After two successful summers, I received this R25 in 2012. To date we have welcomed 56 Eckerd students to MGH, and the impact on the students, the college, and on MGH has been incredible. Eckerd College is a truly unique institution with a strong focus on the sciences, and our program provides the opportunity for students to get hands-on research experience in an environment that is not available in St. Petersburg. The Program Announcement states that the goal is to provide hands-on exposure to research in order to prepare students for graduate/medical school admission and a career in research. Our program offers Eckerd students an opportunity to work in NINDS funded laboratories performing cutting-edge translational research in an exceptional environment. As funding becomes increasingly scarce, it is imperative that we continue to provide summer research opportunities to students who have never before worked in research laboratories. This program has provided an important foundation for 56 students to date, and of the 45 who have now graduated from Eckerd, an astonishing 50% are now in medical or graduate school. The CGM faculty are enthusiastic about this program, as are the faculty at Eckerd College, and the impact of the program has been far-reaching. Life-long mentoring relationships have been forged, and I hope to be able to continue this program for the next five years.
The goal of this program is to provide unique summer research opportunities to undergraduate science students. The Neurogenetics Undergraduate Summer Research program is a partnership between the Center for Genomic Medicine (CGM) at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School and Eckerd College, a small undergraduate liberal arts college in St. Petersburg, FL. This program will offer undergraduate students the opportunity to work in NIH funded laboratories performing cutting-edge translational research in an exceptional environment, which will provide them with an important foundation for continuing graduate education and eventual careers in biomedical research.