The Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute (Greehey CCRI) Summer Internship Program is designed to allow talented undergraduate students who are interested in a career in academic research to spend approximately 10-12 weeks during their summer break conducting hypothesis-driven childhood cancer research in one of the research laboratories at the Greehey CCRI. The program is intended to educate the next generation of cancer researchers, and has offered students from throughout the nation, and from around the world, an opportunity to learn in a fast-paced, cutting-edge, cancer research environment.
Some Fast Facts -
|The program begins in May 27th and ends in August 15th, though there is some flexibility on dates to accommodate a student’s undergraduate schedule (with prior arrangements).|
|Applications can exceed the available positions by as much as 4 to 1.|
|The program is typically budgeted to accommodate ten to twelve undergraduate students, and after those positions are filled those applicants who wish may be placed on a waiting list.|
|Candidates are screened by individual Principal Investigators to identify and select candidates whose research interests best fit each laboratory’s ongoing research program, and are not chosen based on the timing of their application, though applications after April are not considered.|
|A monthly stipend is available to help defray some of the student’s expenses, but meals, housing, and transportation are not provided so those costs are entirely the students’ responsibility.|
Program Focus and Details -
Hypothesis-driven research -
Each student is expected to develop, together with their faculty mentor, a hypothesis-driven research project that can be completed during the 10-12 weeks of the program. As an example, one student-mentor team hypothesized that microRNA expression profiling may be of prognostic value. To this end, the student studied microRNA expression in clinical specimens of hepatoblastoma. By using retrospective clinical outcome data the student sought to determine whether miRNA-expression profiling can be used to predict prognostic outcomes. Although the research at the Greehey CCRI is focused on cancer, extensive diversity in both topic and paradigm are being employed. A spectrum of potential projects, ranging from purely basic science relevant to cancer, to analysis of clinically related data, is available for prospective students to choose from. Links to detailed descriptions of the faculty research interests can be found at http://gccri.uthscsa.edu. In addition to the breadth of potential research topics, a wide array of research technologies, including genomics, proteomics, classical genetics, and various cellular and organismal imaging platforms, are also being employed, further augmenting the diversity of potential research projects available to the students.
Health and safety training - Prior to conducting independent research, an assessment of potential workplace hazards will be conducted to insure that safe work practices and appropriate training is in place. The assessment will determine what training courses need to be scheduled prior to the commencement of research.
Communicating the results of academic research is an important skill that needs to be developed and to this end, the students’ summer research experience will culminate in a research symposium on August 8th, 2014, where each student assembles a poster that presents the results of their research. The goals of this exercise are to 1) Teach these students how to effectively present ideas based on existing data, 2) Defend possible conclusions, 3) Inspire confidence with respect to public speaking, and 4) Provide an opportunity for these students to share the results of their summer experience with each other.
Uniqueness of Program -
Programs for undergraduate summer students to experience the laboratory research environment exist at most research-oriented academic institutions but access to such opportunities in a dedicated children’s cancer research environment is a unique offering. Since research being conducted at our facility utilizes a wide range of techniques and model systems, student can experience not only a unique firsthand look at children’s cancer research, they can do so from both basic science and clinically relevant experimental paradigms.
How to Apply -
Applications for the 2015 program must be submitted via a web-based platform, available on the Greehey CCRI website in late February, and will be accepted until the close of business on March 31st, 2015. Students will be notified of their acceptance, (or other status), of their application by April 15th, 2015. Information required for the application includes both a current resume and a short essay describing why the student is interested in studying at the Greehey CCRI, and what they hope to take away from such a research experience.