The Bioinformatics Training with Industry Support and Engagement (BITWISE) project will provide financial, academic, and career support for academically talented, low-income students while enrolled in a new interdisciplinary Master of Science program in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at Saint Louis University. The project will leverage the university's midtown location within a vibrant community of biotechnology industries in the Greater St. Louis area. Community partners provide a broad network for placing students into internships while completing their master's degrees and into careers upon graduation. Local industries will invite groups of BITWISE scholars on location through a series of field trips during the academic year, and industry mentors will participate in on-campus activities such as research seminars and career panels.
Direct outcomes of the project will include improved educational opportunities for both the BITWISE scholars and future generations of students who follow a similar educational pathway, and the enrichment of the biotechnology workforce in a field of great local and national need. Further impact of the project will include establishing and assessing a model for a robust university-industry partnership in support of a professionally-oriented master's degree in an interdisciplinary STEM field, and for using both common courses and extracurricular activities to develop a cohesive interdisciplinary cohort from an initial population of students who arrive with diverse backgrounds ranging over more discipline-specific undergraduate fields of study.