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Help Wanted: Summer Internships Benefit Local Students

April 24, 2007

Melanie N. Cross

Tulane Cancer Center researchers have the opportunity to make a real and lasting difference in the lives of some talented students from the New Orleans Charter Science and Mathematics High School this summer.


Students from the New Orleans Charter Science and Math High School will participate in a summer internship program with Tulane Cancer Center faculty. (Photo by Valerie Bodet)

By becoming mentors in the cancer center's new summer internship program, they will expose promising young men and women to the challenges and rewards of a career in science.

"This is the most powerful learning experience we can provide our students," says Barbara MacPhee, principal of the charter school. "Most have no real-life experience in scientific research.

Allowing them the chance to put on a white coat, enter a laboratory and make a real contribution to our body of knowledge is incomparable. We are thrilled."

The internship program will start on June 11 and will run for six weeks, wrapping up the first week in August. Students will be matched with faculty mentors based on research interests and will complete research projects under their mentors' supervision.

In addition to laboratory work, interns will attend weekly seminars where they will enjoy scientific presentations, as well as learn the basics of responsible conduct in research. They also will be taught how to give a poster presentation and will participate in a poster competition at the end of the summer.

Summer interns at the Tulane Cancer Center will work closely with student interns participating in the successful summer program run by Paula Gregory, a geneticist with Louisiana State University.

Gregory is principal investigator on a National Cancer Institute grant that provides similar opportunities for Louisiana high school, undergraduate and medical school students through the Louisiana Gene Therapy Research Consortium and the Louisiana Cancer Research Consortium, of which Tulane University is a partner.

"The goal of these types of programs is to cultivate an interest among Louisiana students in research careers," Gregory says. "We hope we are nurturing the interests of some of Louisiana's best students to stay here and continue their careers in their home state."

Gregory adds that this program will address the national need for diversity among scientists by exposing minority students to cutting-edge research taking place right here in New Orleans. Valerie Bodet, director of the program at the charter school, is excited to offer her students such a unique summer employment opportunity.

"It's definitely not your typical summer job in a fast-food restaurant," Bodet says. "By the end of the summer, student interns will gain professional work experience, learn practical skills for work in a scientific field, interact and create relationships with professionals in the community, and perhaps most importantly be exposed to something different."

Participants in the summer internship program must have completed their sophomore year and must have taken biology. Up to 10 students will be selected to participate. They will work an average of 25 hours per week and receive a stipend upon completion of their internship at the end of the summer.

"Improving education in post-Karina New Orleans is vital to the rebirth of our great city," says Roy Weiner, director of the Tulane Cancer Center. "Providing unique, enriching educational opportunities for our young people is central to that effort. Additionally, this program will help to expand our pool of talented young scientists while also aiding the national thrust to introduce practical laboratory experience prior to college."

Melanie Cross is marketing coordinator for the Tulane Cancer Center.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000