SC CTSI Partners with Local High School to Educate Next Generation of Clinical Research Workforce

By Samantha Devapiriam — March 23, 2022

As clinical and translational researchers aim to serve a diverse population of research participants that wholly represent our populations, it is also important to have clinical staff match this diverse representation. One of the key ways to introduce diversity into this sector is by engaging the younger generation to promote these careers and show the various possibilities for being employed in the clinical research enterprise.

In and around USC, many ventures to promote such inclusivity already exist. The STAR/EHA Program, led by Daryl Davies, PhD is one of these programs. The STAR/EHA program brings high school students into hospitals and research labs to promote biomedical research as a viable career path. The STAR/EHA Program collaborates with Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School, a high school near USC’s Health Sciences Campus.

Building off of existing programs, the Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute (SC CTSI) recently launched an initiative to engage Bravo High School students too. As part of this, the SC CTSI coordinated and held educational workshops to inform students about what clinical and translational research is, how they can make a viable career in this area, and how to get involved. In an anonymous survey students took after attending these workshops, CTSI found an overwhelmingly positive reception from the students.

“My main takeaway from this event is that there are lots of careers involving public health, which can be rewarding,” one student remarked. 

In addition to hosting scientist-led workshops for students to expose them to the different careers in clinical science and research, CTSI is also piloting an internship program for select students to be placed in research labs around the USC Health Sciences Campus and within the SC CTSI as well. There are currently two interns in the program and they are both placed with former CTSI KL2 Scholars, Mark Shiroishi and Kimberly Gokoffski. CTSI hopes to expand this program in the future and take on more interns. 

“This new partnership expands opportunities for the Bravo High students and will no doubt open new and unexplored avenues for future careers among these very talented and eager students,” said STAR/EHA Bravo partner Terry Church, DRSc.

“If the program is successful and influences students to pursue clinical and translational careers, we hope to expand the program to other high schools and share it with other academic medical centers around the country,” said Allison Orechwa, PhD, Senior Director of Strategy and Innovation at the SC CTSI. 

CTSI’s initiative is currently supported by the new Education Resource Center at USC. Benefits from this collaboration included assistance with choosing learning objectives and content for the curriculum, as well as assistance with student feedback surveys. As this program expands, it will be exciting to see the positive impact it has on students and how it inspires future researchers and clinicians.

NIH Funding Acknowledgment: Important - All publications resulting from the utilization of SC CTSI resources are required to credit the SC CTSI grant by including the NIH funding acknowledgment and must comply with the NIH Public Access Policy.