What do prenatal sleep deprivation in rats, anti-cancer drugs, stimulant use, algaecides, and divorce all have in common? They are the research topics that were selected by participants in Morgan State University’s 2016 Summer Research Institute (SRI). The institute is part of “A Student-Centered Entrepreneurship Development (ASCEND) Training Model,” a program designed to increase diversity in the biomedical workforce and funded by a $23.3-million grant to Morgan from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2014. ASCEND and the SRI allow students to be creative and take ownership of their training by proposing and selecting their topic of research, developing the research methods, writing small grants and moving the project forward.
The SRI’s 26 students, separated into five groups, presented their research pre-proposals on July 20, at the conclusion of the eight-week residential health research training program on Morgan’s campus. In addition to family members, MSU faculty and administrators, on hand to hear the presentations were the NIH program officer and program scientist for ASCEND, as well as faculty from The Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland and the National Cancer Institute, and representatives from Baltimore City Community College and Prince George’s Community College.
SRI is taught by five instructors and is supported by five “near-peer” mentors and a number of MSU faculty members. The curriculum included: hands-on “bench” mini-studies; working remotely with a functional MRI machine at Northeastern University; and field trips to the Kennedy Krieger Institute and the Lipinski Laboratory in the Neuroscience Graduate Program at the University of Maryland at Baltimore.
Dr. Christine Hohmann, director of the SRI program, says, “The creativity and drive of our ASCEND SRI students continues to amaze and uplift me. With the right mix of training, challenge and support, our students can soar.”