July 16, 2013
The seventh annual Explore Genetics program will be a dynamic educational experience for rising high school seniors (current juniors, no exceptions will be made). Students will gain a broad understanding of genetics through hands-on laboratory work, expert speakers and group projects. They will talk with Harvard Medical School faculty members about the latest research and clinical applications in genetics, hear personal perspectives from people with genetic diseases and follow fictional families through the process from clinical diagnosis of genetic-based diseases to receiving testing results.
The program will take place at 65 Landsdowne Street, Cambridge, MA on Tuesday, July 16 approximately 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. There is no cost to attend this program.
By the end of the program, students will be exposed to drawing a family pedigree, performing a DNA extraction from saliva, using PCR to amplify a DNA sample and loading and running a gel electrophoresis. Students will gain a strong understanding of how these processes relate to genetics in medicine now and in the future. They should know the clinical features, inheritance pattern and testing methods for a genetic disease and have learned about a number of career options in the field of genetics.
By the end of the program, students should value the following:
We are looking for strong students that have a good understanding of basic genetics and are enthusiastic about learning more and meeting new people. The program has been designed for the summer after a student’s junior year in high school, no exceptions will be made. Current juniors who have a solid background in biology, have a record of academic success and have participated in extracurricular activities related to science or health care will have the best chance of being admitted to the program. Students do not have to have a parent or guardian affiliated with Partners HealthCare to apply or attend.
Completed application by April 15, 2013
Please fill in all of the information on the second page of the application form either by typing electronically, printing the form and writing out your responses or attaching a separate page. The completed form may be longer than one page, and formatting is not important. Some of the questions are included so that we can get to know you before the program and best place you in the groups for the disease project and labs if you are admitted.
All materials should be sent to Amy McGlinn at email@example.com faxed to 617-525-4488 or mailed to 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur, Suite 250, Boston, MA 02115. Email submission is strongly encouraged.
The deadline for receiving completed application materials April 15, 2013. Decisions will be emailed to students near the end of May. Those students who are offered admission must accept their place in the program by June 7th.
Over the past years, 66 high school students from 44 schools in six states have attended the Explore Genetics program. They have come from public, charter, application, private and parochial schools, including the following:
Academy of the Pacific Rim
Andover High School
Billerica Memorial High School
Boston University Academy
Cambridge Rindge and Latin School
East Boston High School
International School of Boston
Lexington High School
Martin Luther King Jr. High
Newton South High School
North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics
Our Lady of Nazareth Academy
Phillips Academy, Andover
Revere High School
The Winsor School
Paige Coles, a senior honors student at Saint Clement Jr./Sr. High School in Medford, Massachusetts, attended Explore Genetics in July of 2009. Paige wrote her college application essay (below) about her experience in the program, and she and the program were featured in a news article in the Medford Transcript in December of 2009 (click here for the article).
The evaluation said, “The genetic counselor was great! She should be a genetic counselor in real life!” I was that genetic counselor. That was my fifteen minutes of fame. Someone in a crowd of 30 personal health care professionals, 10 rising high school seniors, 1 Harvard Medical School professor, and my mom believed in me. And I know it wasn’t my mom this time, because the review wasn’t in her hand writing.
I was presenting in a role-play about a patient diagnosed with Marfan syndrome during the third annual Explore Genetics program at Partners HealthCare Center for Personalized Genetic Medicine. In the presentation, I portrayed a genetic counselor, and I guided a distraught patient and his confused family through the diagnosis and prognosis of this disease, which could lead to a grave heart condition. With my team, I researched signs of Marfan syndrome and we practiced the presentation for days.
Never before had I felt so in-my-element. Speaking in front of that assembly of people about how Marfan syndrome is passed down throughout a family, and consoling the fictional family of the patient I had just “diagnosed,” I felt intelligent and compassionate. Through the Explore Genetics program in general, I was afforded an advantage over other students who are competing for a place in the medical field. Explore Genetics completely convinced me that I want to be a doctor researching genetic diseases.
I had aspired to be a part of Explore Genetics since my sophomore year. My science teacher of three years recommended me for the program. I applied, but I was put on the wait list because the program was actually meant for high school juniors. Determined to be a part of the program in the following year, I e-mailed the director of the program for the next year so that she would remember me, and when it came time to register for the program again, I was ready. I filled out my application, asked for another recommendation, and wrote a meaningful essay about why I wanted to study genetics.
Then, after a selective process, I was one of 15 students from the Boston area to be accepted to the program. I was absolutely giddy upon receiving this news. All of my hard work had paid off. Every disappointment leading up to this point was erased from my memory.
The Explore Genetics program was an active learning event. I considered what I would do if I were put in the shoes of patients with genetic diseases in certain situations. As a participant, I gained an extensive knowledge of genetics through applied laboratory work, specialist panels, and group tasks. I learned basic laboratory etiquette, and worked well with others. Talking with specialists in the field of genetics gave me the opportunity to ask questions about treatments for genetics diseases. Through partnerships with the Broad Institute and Biogen Idec and within Partners’ own facilities, I spent two full days in the laboratory executing experiments and learning techniques. During the program, I was able to shadow a geneticist and learn what a day in her life is like.
I engaged with a Harvard Medical School faculty member about the latest research and cases in forensic genetics. We talked about how the police can track down criminals with their siblings’ DNA that may be in databases from their being pulled over for speeding or other misdemeanors. As the professor told his intriguing stories, I listened raptly, entranced by his ingeniousness. I asked questions that no one else had thought of, which he thought were impressive.
I learned so much from the Explore Genetics program, such as how to model a detailed pedigree on the computer and how to perform gel electrophoresis. However, something that couldn’t be learned, something I felt, was a sense of belonging and purpose. Just like that audience member who could see that I belonged behind that desk talking with that family, I could see that that was where I was headed. My purpose was so strong that I think more people than my mom noticed.
Students are expected to maintain appropriate appearance and dress. Open-toed shoes, flip flops, shorts and short skirts are not allowed in the lab for safety reasons.
Before the program, contact Amy McGlinn with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 617-525-4483. During the program, if a student is running late or needs to be reached, call Amy. If you cannot reach Amy McGlinn, you may call Amy Brainerd, the Genome Center Administrative Assistant, at 617-768-8482.
There is no cost to attend this program.
The deadline for receiving completed application materials is April 15th. Decisions will be emailed to students by the end of May. Those students who are offered admission must accept their place in the program by June 7th. The program will be held on July 16, 2013.
The Partners HealthCare Center for Personalized Genetic Medicine (PCPGM) laboratory is located at the Partners Research Building (PRB) at 65 Landsdowne Street in Cambridge, MA. (Please note that this is different from Landsdowne Street near Fenway Park in Boston.) Directions can be found on our website on the directions page. Once you reach the building, enter through the front doors facing the rock garden. Immediately turn right and proceed through the glass doors to the large conference room straight ahead, room 103A.
The students will begin and end each day at the PRB and will remain on-campus for most of the program (on-campus is defined as the PRB and the rock garden in front). On a number of days, we will take field trips off-campus to other facilities. These will include the Broad Institute at 7 Cambridge Center in Cambridge, Biogen Idec at 15 Cambridge Center in Cambridge, Boston University School of Medicine’s CityLab at 801 Albany Street in Boston and the Harvard Medical School New Research Building at 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur, Boston.
By the end of the program, students should know the following:
By the end of the program, students should value the following:
Students who do not live within commuting distance of Cambridge must make their own living arrangements to attend the program.
Students will receive a name badge sticker for the day, which they should wear all day both for identification within the building and for getting to know other students and staff.
Lunch will be provided. Please include any major dietary restrictions or allergies with your application.
The seventh annual Explore Genetics program will be a dynamic educational experience for rising high school seniors. Students will gain a broad understanding of genetics through hands-on laboratory work, expert speakers and group projects. They will talk with Harvard Medical School faculty members about the latest research and clinical applications in genetics, hear personal perspectives from people with genetic diseases and follow fictional families through the process from clinical diagnosis of genetic-based diseases to receiving testing results.
There is a parking garage at 80 Landsdowne Street across from the Partners Research Building where the validated rate is $18/day. It is sometimes possible to find street parking as well.
Over the past four years, 66 high school students from 44 schools in six states have attended the Explore Genetics program. They have come from public, charter, application, private and parochial schools.
We are looking for strong students that have a good understanding of basic genetics and are enthusiastic about learning more and meeting new people. The program has been designed for the summer after a student’s junior year in high school. Current juniors who have a solid background in biology, have a record of academic success and have participated in extracurricular activities related to science or health care will have the best chance of being admitted to the program. Students do not have to have a parent or guardian affiliated with Partners HealthCare to apply or attend.
Please keep cell phones and other electronic devices off or in silent mode during the program hours, including lunch. Students may use devices during breaks, if necessary.
It is assumed that students have a good understanding of basic genetics. If students would like to brush up on genetics terminology, we suggest visiting the National Human Genome Research Institute website.
Required application materials include the application form.
Participants will be exposed to topics related to genetics, genetic diseases and genetic testing, and genetic counselors are available if, at any time, anyone feels uncomfortable with any information or has any questions or concerns.
The program will run from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. We will begin promptly, so we appreciate students arriving a few minutes early to get settled before we start. We expect students to remain on-campus to the end of the day.
The Partners Research Building is a secure building open Monday through Friday to employees and visitors with identification. Security personnel are on-duty in the building at all times. Although students will spend most of their time in conference room 103A that has been reserved exclusively for the program, they will go to rooms on other floors as well. Students may choose to leave belongings in the main conference room, but we suggest students refrain from bringing valuables to the program and carry all necessary valuables on them at all times. There are lockers on the third floor of the building for which students may bring in locks if they choose to use them.
Meet the staff you may encounter at PCPGM at the contact page. Click any group on the left for a list of staff members and more information.
All application materials should be sent to Amy McGlinn at email@example.com, faxed to 617-525-4488 or mailed to 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur, Suite 250, Boston, MA 02115. Email submission is strongly encouraged.
Participants are responsible for their own transportation to and from the program. The closest MBTA subway station is the Central Square Station where the Red Line stops, which is about a 10-minute walk from the building. There are also Partners HealthCare shuttles from Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital to 65 Landsdowne Street.
Contact Amy McGlinn with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-525-4483.