Winkleby Lab In the Prevention Research Center

Grants for Precollege Science Education - Biomedical Research Institutions

This HHMI Initiative will help sustain, integrate, and expand 3 exceptional biomedical outreach programs in the fields of Medical Sciences, Immunology, and Genetics within the Stanford University School of Medicine. The 3 existing programs will form the foundation for integrated and new activities for high school students, teachers, Stanford students, families, and the community that are not possible through the individual programs. The program director and key staff will come together for the first time in this Initiative to create a new coordinated precollege science education program in the School of Medicine. Funding is requested to partially support existing, integrated, and new activities, with Stanford and other grants providing the remaining funding. This funding is needed to continue and disseminate the programs. The Initiative will offer scientific training to high school students, with a special emphasis on low-income and ethnic minority students who are in great need of science education. Centered in Santa Clara County, California, the Initiative will draw on local scientific resources and expertise to specifically target the County’s large underserved population and will expand activities to the 11 under-resourced high schools in the San Jose East Side Union High School District that serve 20,000 students.

The 3 programs in this Initiative are:

(1) Medical Sciences (Dr. Winkleby). This biomedical pipeline program recruits 24 extremely low-income high school students from Northern California each summer for a 5-week, university-based program. The 24 students live on campus in a residential home with 10 Stanford undergraduate students. The program also partners with biology teachers at 4 high schools to recruit 90 Native American, Latino, and African American students for an academic year, school-based program. Inquiry-based science, hypothesis-driven research, hospital internships or clinical shadowing, and college/career guidance distinguish the curricula. Of the 428 students who have completed the university-based program, 81% have graduated from a 4-year college (excluding those still in high school or college). This compares to 29% among 25-34 year old California adults, regardless of income level.

(2) Immunology (Dr. Utz). This program recruits an ethnically diverse group of 25 high school students from Santa Clara County each summer and pairs them with scientists and 30-35 graduate students and fellows for 8 weeks to conduct research in Stanford’s clinical immunology laboratories. Students perform hands-on, hypothesis-driven experiments, supported by an age-appropriate syllabus, and participate in interactive workshops on career guidance and topical medical issues (e.g., stem cell research, HIV infection). The students also develop independent research projects where they are taught how to design and execute experiments, and interpret their results. Their research culminates in student-led presentations and scientific posters. 134 students have completed the program and 100% have matriculated into college, or are planning to attend college.

(3) Genetics (Dr. Starr). This museum-based program is a partnership between Stanford’s Department of Genetics and Silicon Valley’s renowned Tech Museum of Innovation, located in the San Jose East Side Union High School District. A Stanford geneticist works full-time at the museum exhibit, “Genetics: Technology with a Twist.” 10-12 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are trained to work for 5 hours a week for 6 months to guide approximately 1,000 high school students and 5,000 community members through four 15-minute hands-on genetics activities (e.g., DNA analysis, protein purification) annually. An additional 3,000 high school students and 25,000 community members are reached annually through a popular computer-assisted bacterial transformation activity, available in English and Spanish.

The mutual goals of Stanford’s HHMI Initiative are to:

1) Engage students in experiential hands-on science and independent research experiences, pair them with scientific role models, and enhance an interest and understanding of medical sciences, immunology, and genetics; 2) Provide professional development for science teachers to create and deliver inquiry-based science activities, develop partnerships with scientists, and create new education networks; 3) Provide undergraduate, graduate, medical, and postdoctoral students with opportunities to teach science in both formal and informal settings, serve as role models, participate in program design, and enhance their professional development; 4) Engage scientists in education outreach to families and community members to enhance science literacy, and reinforce the role of families and the community in science education for adolescents; 5) Enhance teaching, learning, and evaluation through refinement and dissemination of teaching tools; and 6) Use formative and summative evaluation methods to comprehensively assess program activities, and disseminate teaching materials and tools.

Our HHMI initiative will partner with institutions that have well-established outreach capacity—one university-based (Stanford Hospital and Clinics), one community-based (The Tech Museum of Innovation), and one school-based (San Jose East Side Union High School District). The Stanford School of Medicine will provide strong support through provision of in-kind Faculty salaries, office space, laboratory supplies and resources, computers and technology, and clinical placements. The new partnership among the three programs will create a foundation to help sustain the programs on a long-term basis, drawing on Stanford’s new Office of Community Health and its cross-campus initiative that is focused on improving K-12 education.


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