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What’s Your Summer Job? Try Cancer Researcher

ALBANY, N.Y. (July 27, 2016) -- It might be a perfect day for relaxing by the pool, but for a group of Troy and Albany high school students, examining breast cancer and prostate cancer cell lines under a microscope is far more engaging.

The Summer Cancer Research Program is once again under way at the University at Albany’s Cancer Research Center, this year hosting more than twice as many students as ever before. Students from a number of Rensselaer and Albany County schools have joined international students from Canada and Turkey to learn about how cancer research is conducted at the state-of-the art facility. The seven-week program provides opportunities for the young scientists to be trained in lab technologies and work on mentored research projects before taking part in a symposium at the end of the course.

In 2015, the Cancer Research Center was able to accommodate 17 students in the program. This year, due to the generous support of the Seymour Fox Foundation and the Bender Family Foundation, the number of students has soared to 40. The foundation specifically supports area high school students, while existing partnerships help support students from Queen’s University in Ontario, as well as university undergraduate and high school students in the CSTEP (Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program) and STEP (Science and Technology Entry Program) programs coordinated by the University at Albany Summer Research Program (UASRP).

CRC Summer Research Program 2016
This year's summer research program at the CRC features 40 students, more than double previous years. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

"The Summer Program was developed in response to President Jones’ challenge to expand the UAlbany community outreach. By integrating several independent programs into a progressive umbrella program, this will encourage the students to return in subsequent years," said Martin Tenniswood, director of the Cancer Research Center and Empire Innovations Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at UAlbany’s School of Public Health. "The rapid increase in the size of the program highlights the interest in laboratory research in general, and cancer research in particular. We could not have responded to this interest without the generous support of our donors."

One key aspect of the research program is that it offers qualified underrepresented high school and undergraduates an invaluable experience in academic research and scholarly writing. The UASRP programs consider research an integral part of the undergraduate college experience and a way to encourage graduate study because it integrates students early into the research culture..

Similarly, the high school research program is designed to provide students from traditionally disadvantaged communities opportunities to explore careers in science and technology fields that might not otherwise exist for them.

"Organizing and delivering the program is very intense, but extremely rewarding, both for the students and the participating faculty and staff. We are already planning next year’s program," said Jason Herschkowitz, assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, the coordinator of the program.

UAlbany’s School of Public Health, created through a memorandum of understanding between the University at Albany and NYSDOH, has advanced biomedical research, public health policy and program development, peer-reviewed scholarship, and teaching. This year, SPH is celebrating the 30th anniversary of this unique model of graduate public health education.

The School, initially located within NYSDOH with its staff as the founding faculty, has evolved to have an independent campus and full-time academic faculty, but remains closely linked with the Department of Health. The School and the Department work together to improve the health of the New York’s citizens by providing an academic focus to problems faced in health department practice settings.

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About the University at Albany
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.