Current Florida and NIH initiatives in translational research (NIH Roadmap for Medical Research) require that today's students understand, and are academically prepared for, the research, clinical and technical positions increasingly available in the continuum from basic research to marketable medicines, diagnostics and devices. However, few high school teachers have awareness or access to information about rapidly developing biomedical science content, technologies, and careers. To address this unmet need, we propose to create and expand partnerships that (1) connect researchers in interdisciplinary biomedical sciences with teachers in high schools and (2) promote interest in and preparation for bioscience careers. Our proposal, Biomedical Explorations: Bench to Bedside, includes science and education partners in an innovative program available for graduate credit leading to a Certificate in Biotechnology Education. The program integrates experiences from a two-week Institute in the summer into classroom action during the school year. During the Institute, an experimental sequence in authentic basic science, clinical and applied research environments will illustrate current scientific content, pedagogical methods, diverse career options, and conceptual and technological interrelationships within the bench to bedside continuum. Teachers, together with science and education researchers, will develop appropriate and affordable lessons and laboratory exercises that convey to their students the principles of translational research and drug development in the context of career choices. During the school year, action research proposals, resources, formal presentations, review of classroom outcomes, and incentives for ongoing professional development aim to provide continuing support and encouragement to transition scientific processes, real-world skills, and enthusiasm for bioscience careers to schools in rural and economically disadvantaged settings. The structural components of the proposed model are designed to be transportable to research institutions who seek to adapt their disciplinary strengths, through ongoing school partnerships, to meet national and regional needs to improve science teaching/learning and to deepen student preparation for, and excitement about, science and technical careers.
(provided by applicant): The need for Biotechnology Education in Florida has increased dramatically in response to the successes and continuing expansion of translational research at the University of Florida and its sister institutions, the rapid growth of the Bioscience Industry fostered by the State, and the emergence of academic/industrial partnerships in the biosciences. Our Biomedical Explorations: Bench to Bedside proposal supports science teachers in ongoing opportunities for personal enrichment and professional advancement in biotechnology education, and empowers them as agents of change in classroom. This Program draws on all components of medical and biotechnology research and education at the University of Florida in order to further the recruitment, education, and certification of high school teachers, especially those from rural and underserved communities in regions where the need for a well-prepared workforce is high and awareness of, and preparation for, careers in the biosciences is low.