Applications Now Open For First Class of TGen Bioscience Leadership Academy

Author: Helios Education Foundation

Posted on: January 10, 2018

New high school program joins successful Helios Scholars at TGen in preparing Arizona students for high-tech biomedical careers 

January 3 marked the start of applications for two summer educational programs at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), both sponsored by Helios Education Foundation.

The summer of 2018 will mark the first class of a new program — TGen Bioscience Leadership Academy — designed exclusively for high school students who are looking to elevate their understanding of bioscience and precision medicine. Up to 20 high school students from across Arizona will spend two weeks with TGen’s world-class scientists, learning advanced scientific and professional skills.

This new Helios program builds on the success of the ongoing Helios Scholars at TGen, which for 11 years has provided up to 45 students each summer with an eight-week paid internship, preparing the next generation of Arizona bioscience researchers and physicians. Helios Scholars at TGen is now designed exclusively for undergraduate and graduate college students, including those in medical school. Since 2007, 464 students have participated in this program, which previously was open to a few exceptional high school students.

One of those high school students was Rachel Zoneraich, now 17, who is a senior this year at Scottsdale Preparatory Academy. As a Helios Scholar this past summer, she experienced an enriching cultural and scientific atmosphere while studying a blood cancer called Multiple Myeloma.

“As a 16-year-old high school student, I had found it difficult to find a place where I felt that I was making a difference,” Rachel said. “I found that place at TGen. I was immersed in a collaborative scientific environment with my own bioinformatics project. I made friends for life, while also making a positive impact on cancer patients through my research.”

By initiating a separate program for high school students, TGen and Helios will enable more of those students to participate.

“TGen Bioscience Leadership Academy creates greater opportunity for younger students to build on their interests and strengths,” said Julie Euber, TGen Manager of Education and Outreach. “Thanks to the generosity of Helios Education Foundation, high school students interested in the biosciences now have a program specifically tailored to provide them with a full array of biomedical career possibilities.” 

Helios Scholars at TGen generates nearly 500 applicants annually, and Euber expects that TGen Biosciences Leadership Academy will be as competitive.

“TGen Bioscience Leadership Academy will be a creative and challenging way for these younger students to advance to a higher academic level, preparing them — as with Helios Scholars at TGen — for success in college and career,” said Paul J. Luna, President and CEO, Helios Education Foundation. 

TGen scientists will share research expertise and technical skills, lab shadowing, bioethics, experimental design, and the translational process of quickly moving laboratory discoveries into new therapeutics to benefit patients with neurological disorders, infectious diseases and many types of cancer.

“In addition to the hands-on research experience, I think the best part of the Helios program were the people,” said Rachel, who currently is working as an academic year intern at TGen. “I was surrounded by a motivated and intelligent group of peers that I had not found elsewhere. I loved participating in the various seminars for professional development, as well as bonding with other interns.” 

Students selected for both TGen Bioscience Leadership Academy and Helios Scholars at TGen also will receive guidance in science communication skills, public speaking, interdisciplinary and collaborative workplace skills, and networking.

Both programs are designed to: increase access to academic experiences for underrepresented populations; demonstrate TGen’s and Helios’ leadership in innovative bioscience education; and enable graduates to become peer models who can inspire other students to achieve.

Applications for both programs open Jan. 3, and close Feb. 9.

The inaugural class of TGen Bioscience Leadership Academy runs June 18-29. Applicants must be 16 by the time the program starts, and in the fall entering their junior or senior year of high school. Only one student will be selected from any one Arizona high school each year, ensuring participation from as many as 20 schools. Each student receives a $1,000 scholarship.

Helios Scholars at TGen will commence June 4, and end July 27 with a daylong scientific symposium, showcasing the students’ accomplishments. Helios Scholars earn an hourly wage that varies with experience.

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