Early Career Spotlight- Engaging the Next Generation of Health Professionals at The Ohio State University

Rachel Cordray, Director of Communications, The Ohio State University Wexler Medical Center

The next generation of health professionals needs to be equipped with the right training to make a demonstrable impact. Preparing tomorrow’s thought leaders to approach the challenges this century brings is the job of educators at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. To train neuroscientists at every level of learning, the university’s programs include biomedical science graduate and undergraduate programs; Discovery PREP to prepare post-baccalaureate students for biomedical PhD graduate work; and a unique medical research program, ASPIRE, which provides undergraduate students from underrepresented and disadvantaged groups with early research experience to get them ready for advanced training in the biomedical sciences.

This summer, the Ohio State Department of Neuroscience launched an effort to reach even younger researchers. The Explorations in Neuroscience Research Internship is an NIH-funded pipeline program for high school juniors and seniors with an interest in and aptitude for scientific research. The program encourages interested students from underrepresented minority, economically disadvantaged, and/or disabled groups to apply. The seven-week, intensive summer immersion experience offers substantive research and professional development activities, giving young scientists a unique opportunity to explore neuroscience research as a career. Participants work alongside a team of professional scientists on substantive research in laboratory facilities across the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, learning to conduct research using advanced methods and protocols, and preparing for their next level of training.

The Explorations in Neuroscience Research Internship program is based on a project funded under an R25 grant provided by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.  Over the course of the program, program leaders will track the impact of the experience on the participants’ cognitive factors known to promote choice and persistence in research activities, as well as their post-program career trajectories. That information will help them discern the program’s long-term effects—whether the participants go on to pursue degrees in neuroscience, excel in high-quality neuroscience research experiences and promote development of a strong cohort of diverse young investigators dedicated to neurological disease research—and its impact on the biomedical neuroscience research workforce.

The goal of the program is to fuel a passion in young scientists who may one day lead the way in developing effective strategies to treat such neurological disorders as multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia.

To find out more about the Explorations in Neuroscience Research Internship and to see how the summer program is progressing for students, follow @OSUNeuroscience on Twitter.

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