2007 HSCI summer interns thrive in science

This past summer, 31 college students, excited by the challenges  of stem cell biology, worked as interns in HSCI laboratories at  Harvard, Harvard Medical School, and its affiliated research  hospitals. The lucky 31 were selected from a pool of almost  200 outstanding applicants vying for spots in this, HSCI’s third summer  internship program. 

A 10-week, intensive hands-on research and educational program in  stem cell science and technology, the HSCI summer internship program  is entirely funded by the generosity of individuals who believe in the  promise of stem cell science. The application process is competitive, with  members of a review committee conducting phone interviews with those  selected for the final round. 

Applicants come from a wide range of backgrounds, and not all  have had previous laboratory experience. The program is dedicated to  providing undergraduate students who do not have access to stem cell  science at their schools with a unique opportunity, and it extends its  reach beyond Harvard’s borders. This past summer, there were 15 non-  Harvard students, including one from the U.K. and one from Egypt.  In addition to  working fulltime in the  laboratory, all interns  attended a weekly  seminar series and a  Stem Cell Companion  Course. The seminar  series featured a scientific  talk by an HSCI  stem cell investigator,  along with a career  panel that introduced interns to alternative careers in science. The  Companion course met weekly and consisted of two components, an  outreach project and a journal club. 

Interns worked together in groups to develop an outreach presentation  aimed at the high school level on a disease area relevant to stem cell  research. This project engaged the interns in thinking about stem cell  science from a disease perspective and provided  them with experience in translating complex  scientific terms and concepts into language  appropriate for a high school audience. In partnership  with Boston’s Roxbury Latin School,  two summer interns presented their projects to  a high school class taught by Larry Murphy.  (Murphy is director of the Biotechnology  Institute at the school.) 

The focus of the journal club is to teach and  refine skills necessary for critically analyzing  scientific and review literature. Each intern  gained experience presenting parts of a paper  and leading detailed discussions. In addition to  the science of stem cell research, interns  engaged in lively discussion on the ethical,  philosophical, and social implications often  associated with this field.