The program is funded by an HHMI grant to the MCPS system, which
pairs area high school students and teachers with NIH mentoring
scientists. Interns first complete a basic molecular biology course
and then work in NIH labs for 7 to 8 weeks in the summer. During
the school year, students go to their normal classrooms in the
morning and spend their afternoons in the lab for up to 20 hours
The "key [to the program's success] is the mentored research," said
Dr. Peter Bruns, HHMI vice president for grants and special programs. "It
is clear to me that many of the students gained a real sense of
ownership in their projects. Students were on top of the science
behind the projects and understood the goals of their experiments." Gloria
Seelman, STIP coordinator in the NIH Office of Science Education,
credits the students with the program's success. The "students
are motivated and choose to be in the program knowing how much
work it will take," she said.
|Interns and friends socialize before science
presentations begin. They are (from l) Thoi Ngo (Walter Johnson
High School), Christopher Hill (John F. Kennedy High School),
César Baëta (Wheaton High School), Dipankar Dutta
(Paint Branch High School) and Belachew Telahun (Wheaton High
The dinner was held on the HHMI campus to honor this year's interns,
22 students and 11 teachers. Those who arrived early took advantage
of the terrace views and garden setting to snap photographs with
friends and family. Following the welcoming reception, students
split into several conference rooms to give 15-minute PowerPoint
presentations and answer questions from the audience. Each mini-symposium
was led by a program scientist-advisor. After dinner, people gathered
in the auditorium for a graduation-like ceremony where interns
were called one by one to receive a certificate. Long-time volunteer
scientists and others were also honored.
Under the guidance of senior scientists, interns contributed to
an array of basic science and clinical research projects at NIH.
Most came away with more than new lab skills. In the NIMH Molecular
Imaging Branch, César Baëta worked on a project to develop radiotracers
for use in positron emission tomography (PET) imaging of brain
lesions associated with Alzheimer's disease. "I have a new perspective
in chemistry that I hadn't seen before," he said.
Intern Dipankar Dutta says he "wasn't sure what to major in and
was considering engineering" when he first came to work in an NICHD
laboratory. His project involved understanding how microtubules
(tubular structural units in the cell) remain stable in destabilizing
environments. Since completing the internship, Dutta has decided
to major in biochemistry and biomedical engineering at the University
|Interns gather at the reception. They include
(from l) Everis Clarke Jr. (Walter Johnson High School), Grace
Han (Thomas S. Wootton High School) and Namisha Dhillon (Northwest
The experience "taught me to deal with time management," observed
Thoi Ngo, who worked in the Laboratory of Gene Regulation and Development,
NICHD. His project centered on the interaction between ribosomes
(the cell's protein-assembly units) and factors that initiate protein
synthesis. Results could translate into new therapies for illnesses
caused by problems in protein synthesis.
"It was phenomenal to experience the world of science and the
people in it," noted Belachew Telahun, who worked in the section
on molecular virology, NIMH. His project focused on identifying
regions of the koala endogenous retrovirus (KoRV) envelope that
are responsible for its infection in diverse species. He says it
was a chance to "test out the career and see things that otherwise
would not be possible." Telahun, a recent graduate of Wheaton High
School, plans to major in biochemistry at Princeton, where he won
a full scholarship.
Ernika Quimby of Sherwood High School also won a full scholarship.
She plans to major in biology and an interdisciplinary program
that combines philosophy, neuroscience and psychology at Washington
University in St. Louis.
"This is the most amazing science program for high school students
anywhere in the world," said Sandra Shmookler, director of STIP
and special assistant to the MCPS superintendent. "They get to
spend a year at the NIH and many of them get published. They really
For more information, online applications and deadlines for the
2007-2008 school year, visit http://www.mcps.k12.md.us/departments/intern/stp/.