Council of Councils Meeting

July 1, 2010

Summer Research Experiences

Purpose: To support the participation of high school and college science students and teachers in summer research experiences. The funds would support students and teachers in the laboratories of NIH-supported biomedical scientists and mentors. This program would:

  • Expose young talented individuals to the excitement of scientific research.
  • Help prepare college science students for the rigors of the research doctorate degree.
  • Stimulate science teachers, including K though 12 STEM teachers, to return to their institutions with a renewed dedication to teaching science. The program would also contribute to general science literacy.

Background: All NIH training and fellowship programs critically depend on a pool of well-prepared and highly qualified individuals. The research doctorate training programs we support not only demand strong academic credentials for admission, but they also require prior quality research experiences. This summer program will increase the availability of such experiences and potentially increase the quality of the pool of outstanding science students for our doctoral programs. The program will also provide more opportunities for diverse populations of young students to experience world class science during their formative years. Overall, the program has the potential to contribute to the improvement of the scientific workforce pipeline.

NIH has prior successful experience with supporting such programs on a limited basis. Most recently and most dramatically, NIH used $45 million in Recovery Act funds ($26 million of which were from OD funds) to support over 4,500 students and teachers during the summers of 2009 and 2010. Demonstrating the impact of these programs, FASEB conducted a brief survey of the participants in this ARRA-funded summer program and found that the programs had a significant positive effect on students' attitudes and decisions about future careers as scientists, and on teachers' returning to their classrooms with innovative ideas for improving their science curricula. The consensus among research institutions around the country, the NIH ICs and the initial FASEB study is that this program, especially given its modest cost, has significantly contributed to increasing the awareness among young students of science as career, and among teachers, of enhancing science education. The ARRA Summer program was awarded in the form of research grant supplements to individual PIs. In addition, several Institutes currently fund programs of this nature, including NIDDK and NIEHS.

Description: The Common Fund would provide support for the summer program via institutional awards. These would operate as institutional training programs, where the director would lead a group of faculty in creating a program incorporating summer laboratory research experiences, seminars and career guidance and mentoring. This Common Fund program is expected to be supplemented by IC funding, either through IC support of additional awards through this program, or through administrative supplements to individual IC awards.

This page last reviewed on November 12, 2013