New initiative provides biomedical research experience to West Virginia high school students

A new initiative at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine offers West Virginia high school students an opportunity to explore the field of biomedical research, in an effort to develop a more diverse research workforce across Appalachia. As part of the Health Care Pathways Initiative (HCPI), a four-week summer residential experience at Marshall University for minorities underrepresented in STEM careers, three local high school students will be selected for the new program, which combines hands-on research experience with mentoring.

Students will participate in three eight-week rotations throughout the school year, working in the laboratories of scientists at the Joan C Edwards School of Medicine. After completion of their research rotations, students will select a “permanent” mentor with whom to work for the rest of the program. Student participants will receive additional mentorship from teachers at their home high schools as well as graduate students or undergraduate mentors at Marshall.

Participating faculty members, undergraduate and graduate student trainees in their labs, and the high school trainees will meet for a bi-weekly lab and mentoring meeting that will include professional development training in topics such as time management, reading scientific literature and careers in biomedical research. During the summer of 2023, students will perform full time research and have the opportunity to present their research findings at the WV-INBRE annual summer research symposium.

“At Marshall, we are passionate about cultivating a passion for science and discovery that can impact the field of medicine and our communities for decades to come,” said Shelvy L. Campbell-Monroe, Ph.D., associate dean of diversity and inclusion for the Marshall University schools of medicine and pharmacy.

“This initiative is the first step in developing a comprehensive biomedical research pathway spanning high school students to postdoctoral trainees.” said Daniel Morgan, Ph.D., associate professor and vice chair of biomedical sciences at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and principal investigator on the grant. “Our focus on high school students stems from a commitment to encourage scientific engagement and curiosity at a younger age.”

This project is funded by a one-year supplemental award from the National Institutes of Health (DA044999). The grant covers the cost of a paid research experience for the students, travel to the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Scientists (ABRCMS), as well as college entrance exams for student participants. Morgan and Brandon Henderson, Ph.D., associate professor and co-investigator on the grant, hope to seek additional funding to sustain and expand the program to include research training for minority undergraduate and graduate students as well as postdoctoral fellows.

Applications for the 2023 HCPI experience are being accepted now through May 12, 2023. To apply, visit, https://jcesom.marshall.edu/students/diversity-inclusion/programs/. For more information on research opportunities for minority high school students at Marshall University, please contact Morgan by phone at 304-696-7298 or by e-mail at morganda@marshall.edu.