McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty member Bruce Pitt, Ph.D. (pictured), Professor and Chairman of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health within the Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, is the principal investigator for the first-ever PITT-STEER -- University of Pittsburgh Short Term Education Experience for Research. This summer, six high school students are taking part in the 10-week experience with the goal of encouraging them into careers in biomedical research and environmental health science. The participating students are conducting original research under the mentored supervision of experts from the university's acclaimed Graduate School of Public Health, along with Dr. Pitt, and a core of mentors funded by the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).
"The population of environmental health sciences is unpredictable and this program is a chance to create a pipeline to future health sciences careers," said Dr. Pitt.
Participating students represent selected individuals from a large and outstanding pool of candidates of emerging junior and senior high school students in the Pittsburgh Public School system, and is based on teacher recommendation, student transcripts, and student interest. The program, aimed at encouraging disadvantaged students to consider careers in biomedical research and environmental health science, is funded through 5 years by a $300,000 grant from the NIEHS and is one of 10 such programs at universities around the county.
"We're going to run out of good people if we don't reach down," said Dr. Pitt, who applied for the NIEHS grant and is the program leader. "All of these kids are very bright. We need this kind of pathway to connect to these sorts of jobs. Many don't have a good idea of the opportunities in public health."
In addition to the lab work, which occupies 90 percent of the course time, students attend medical health and science research seminars. On four days the students board RiverQuest's research vessel to analyze water samples, see how the rivers are used, and learn about the freshwater ecology and environmental health.
Illustration: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (08/05/08)