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Opening the Doors to Science
CHORI Receives Increased Funding for Summer Internship Program

"It's a wonderful program that provides an exceptional research opportunity for many students who would otherwise not have it," - Blia Yang, participant

Every year for the past 18 years, CHORI has been conducting a unique summer internship program to help open the doors to the next generation of scientists. High school and college students are provided the opportunity to work one on one with CHORI scientists in the lab or in clinic in order to discover what research is all about.

This year, however, CHORI is pleased to announce that even more students will have the opportunity to experience what research is all about: the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health, which provides the education research grants, will be nearly doubling their amount of funding to CHORI.

"We have an excellent track record in training students and establishing partnerships with other institutions to recruit underrepresented student populations, which really contributes to how competitive and lasting our program continues to be," explains CHORI scientist Vasanthy Narayanaswami, PhD, who, along with CHORI president Bertram Lubin, MD, is a principal investigator on the NHLBI grant.

"The success of the program is also attributed to the commitment and excellence of our scientists who serve as mentors, as well as the quality of the clinical and basic research facilities. It is a tremendous team effort that is really paying off."

In addition to allowing CHORI to fund more students in the Summer Research Program, the increased funding has also allowed CHORI to broaden the scope of the program: starting this year, in addition to undergraduate students, CHORI is also looking to recruit medical students, graduate students, and students in a wider variety of professional areas such as nursing or public health.
"While the goal of our program is to train as many students as possible, one of its unique features is our effort to increase diversity in research."
"To accomplish this, we aggressively sought applications from coast-to-coast to recruit students from a diverse background: racial/ethnic minorities, first generation college students, economically disadvantaged and inner-city students, and differently abled students," explains Dr. Narayanaswami.

"The idea is to get everybody involved."

The success of the program can be seen in its competitiveness alone: CHORI has received ~150 applications this year, and Dr. Narayanasami expects to be training about 40 students this summer. And some of those 40 students will actually be returning to the research program for the second time, as part of a new twist that CHORI proposed this year.

"The summer program is just 9 weeks long," says Dr. Narayanaswami. "While it's a wonderful opportunity to expose them to research, it's not quite enough time for them to really get into a complex project. Now we're planning on personally inviting back those students who did really well, and showed the potential for further research."

While students are always welcome to reapply, and many have had the opportunity to participate for more then one year, the active invitation to selected students is a new element designed to provide continuity and the opportunity for students to really dive into the research.

“With the first experience, you whet the students’ appetites for science, but by inviting them back, you allow them to pick up where they left off without any extra training. We wanted to have both the breadth of reaching as many students as possible, while also creating some depth for those students who are the most promising,” says Dr. Narayanaswami.

Clearly, the NHLBI approved of the approach, and as a result, CHORI will be able to provide even more students with the opportunity to experience science first hand.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011 8:19 AM

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