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NIH awards $1.35 million for biomedical outreach to schools

Submitted by Marmian Grimes
Phone: 907-474-7902

10/30/08

The University of Alaska Fairbanks announced today the receipt of a $1.35 million award from the National Institutes of Health to fund biomedical research education in Alaska middle and high schools. The grant is part of an estimated $17 million awarded by NIH to fund 16 Science Education Partnership Awards across the country.

Led by the National Center for Research Resources, a part of the NIH, partnership awards provide research organizations two to five years of financial support to stimulate scientific curiosity and encourage hands-on science education activities. UAF's award will provide support for the Biomedical Partnership for Research Education Pipeline in Alaska, or Alaska BioPREP. The program is the brainchild of George Happ, director of Alaska IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence.

"The project uses a community-based model to infuse molecular biology into the classrooms of Alaska secondary schools," said Happ. "This approach blends the talents and facilities of local school teachers and health providers with those of the university to create venues where secondary school students can pose biological and biomedical questions, find answers using molecular approaches and gain appreciation of the importance of modern science to the practice of medicine and health policy in their daily lives."

An immediate aim of the project will be to keep students in high school through graduation by ensuring that their high school science courses are focused, challenging and relevant. The BioPREP partnership group includes school districts, teachers, researchers, science education groups and Alaska Teacher Placement. Through the partnership, university researchers provide the technical expertise, teachers provide the instructional expertise and health care providers and community members supply practical applications and encouragement for the students.

"Hands-on investigations, individual mentoring relationships, community involvement and incentives such as travel and scholarships all improve student enthusiasm and retention in school and all are part of BioPREP," said Sue Hills, Alaska INBRE outreach director. "With the skills the students learn in BioPREP, they can jump right into undergraduate research programs or lab assistant positions when they get to college. In many cases, they may work in the same labs they were associated with in high school."

CONTACT: George Happ, INBRE director, at or 907-474-5492. Sue Hills, INBRE outreach director, at sue.hills@alaska.edu or 907-474-5106.

JW/10-30-08/060-09

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