SEPA Project Descriptions, October 2010

Science Education Partnership Awards are designed to incorporate inquiry-based learning experiences to stimulate interest in science, further public understanding of health issues, and encourage the next generation of health professionals. With an emphasis on reducing health disparities, the program’s K-12 projects target minorities and students in rural and underserved communities. The awards support enhanced training for science teachers; the development and distribution of hands-on science curricula; and websites for students, teachers and the general public.

EdVenture Children’s Museum

Columbia, S.C.

Unlocking the Mysteries of Chronic Disease: Bioinvestigations for Family, School and Youth Audiences
Estimated Five-Year Award: $1.31 million

Principal Investigator
Susan Bonk


EdVenture Children’s Museum in Columbia, S.C., will develop Unlocking the Mysteries of Chronic Diseases: Bioinvestigations for Family, School and Youth Audiences in close collaboration with NIH-funded researchers at the University of South Carolina. Bioinvestigations will feature information about the chronic diseases and health disparities in the state, and the current local research around these topics. Museum visitors also will gain a better understanding of the personal choices they can make to optimize their health. The program will consist of teaching laboratories and experiments to educate youth ages 5 – 14, teens and adults about biomedical science topics in a fun, interesting way. EdVenture also will develop educational programs designed to engage disadvantaged audiences in schools and communities to help expose them to the world of science and the benefits of community-based translational research.

Louisiana State University Health Science Center

Shreveport, La.

Being Me
Estimated Five-Year Award: $1.35 million

Principal Investigator
Heather Kleiner, Ph.D.


The BioStart: Clinical Research and Education Experiences for Students, Teachers, Parents and Public program will enable 25 Louisiana high school seniors to have hands-on, intense and exciting laboratory research experiences and increase their understanding of the clinical trial process. Louisiana State University faculty will mentor students by guiding them in developing research projects relevant to the drug discovery research occurring in their laboratories. Faculty, nationally known entrepreneurs and senior management from biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies will present to students on clinical research topics and careers, and faculty and student interns will share their research with other community and university stakeholders.

Meharry Medical College

Nashville, Tenn.

Meharry Health Sciences Leadership Academy
Estimated Five-Year Award: $1.34 million

Principal Investigators
Susan A. DeRiemer, Ph.D.

Starr Hermann


The Meharry Health Careers Leadership Academy is a partnership with the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools to enhance their health sciences career academies, to increase the number and diversity of students entering post-secondary training, and to raise awareness of the role of research in health advances. The academy will challenge ninth-grade students’ ingenuity in developing solutions for real world health problems. Advanced students will work alongside Meharry faculty and students to provide health education and screening in their own communities. A select group of students will spend the summer in a course on health messaging, producing materials for their peers in and out of the classroom. A summer workshop will bring together interdisciplinary teaching teams to improve integration of lessons, to increase facility in training underrepresented minorities, and to incorporate the most up-to-date health research and practice information. Support and evaluation will continue throughout the year.

Virginia Commonwealth University

Richmond, Va.

Project CRESST: Enhancing Clinical Research Education for Science Students and Teachers
Estimated Five-Year Award: $1.33 million

Principal Investigator
Lisa Abrams, Ph.D.


Improved public perception and participation in clinical and translational research is one of the goals of the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Project CRESST: Enhancing Clinical Research Education for Science Students and Teachers. Project CRESST is designed to enhance understanding of the clinical trials process in the local community through a partnership among clinical and translational scientists, faculty in the Schools of Education and Pharmacy, the VCU Center for Clinical and Translational Research, middle and high school science teachers, students and parents. Targeted to urban and rural schools that have been traditionally underserved, the project will feature inquiry-based curricular tools for teachers to introduce students to the clinical research process, using childhood obesity research as a model. It also will include an innovative, week-long, on-campus professional-development workshop on clinical research practice and concepts for science teachers.