[Source: TGen] – Helios Education Foundation today awarded $6.5 million to the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) as part of a new partnership that extends the Helios Scholars Program at TGen for the next 25 years. The program helps cultivate new scientific and technical talent across the state of Arizona. “Helios Education Foundation’s commitment to develop a long term partnership with TGen for student training is an incredible boost for Arizona’s future in the biosciences,” Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano said. “Arizona is poised to become a world leader in cutting-edge medical education and health care, but only if we provide the necessary training and mentorship. These types of public-private partnerships hold the key to what must be the central goal of an Arizona education: giving our students the skills they need to succeed in the high-tech, high-knowledge world of the 21st century.”
The Helios Scholars Program at TGen is an annual summer internship program for 45 high school, undergraduate and graduate students in Arizona. Interns receive a stipend, are paired with a TGen scientist/mentor and are actively engaged in research projects in disorders as diverse as cancer, diabetes, autism and Alzheimer’s disease. The eight-week program supports students from all backgrounds in their efforts to develop foundational skills as they pursue careers in science or medical-related fields. “Creating opportunities in education that have math and science at their core is very important to Helios Education Foundation,” said the Foundation’s Chairman Vince Roig. “We are excited to invest $6.5 million in this innovative and unique program at TGen because it opens new doors into the world of the biosciences for Arizona students. We’re even more excited to be investing in a long-term partnership that will impact the future growth and development of the sciences in Arizona.”
Helios Education Foundation provided funding for TGen’s 2007 summer internship program, which included a stipend for students. This led to a sizable increase in the number of qualified student applications from around the State. The $6.5 million endowment enables TGen to extend its competitive internship program for 25 years and provide a stipend and other support for students. The Helios Scholars Program at TGen also encourages student diversity, with upwards of 20 percent of the interns coming from underrepresented populations. “We are excited to continue and expand our partnership with the Helios Education Foundation,” said TGen president, Dr. Jeffrey Trent. “Our shared commitment to training the next generation of researchers provides an unparalleled opportunity for Arizona and those students seeking hands-on training to augment their classroom experience. For many of these students, this experience will prove to be a defining moment in focusing their career choices across the biosciences.”
Applications are now available on-line at the TGen website: http://www.tgen.org/intern. Interns must be a resident of Arizona or a full-time student at an Arizona-based high school, accredited college or university. The application deadline is March 14. Attributes that investigators consider in selecting students include a strong desire to conduct independent research, interests, academic achievement, curiosity, ambition, and aptitude for working independently and with a team. The application process is competitive, but many different backgrounds and abilities are represented among the students selected.
In addition to the stipends, Helios Education Foundation and TGen recognize each student as a Helios Scholar. The endowment also funds an end-of-the-summer symposium where students present their work to their peers, TGen staff, family and guests. Additionally, the endowment provides six merit-based scholarships and supports several extra curricular activities to encourage student interaction and learning. TGen’s past summer interns boast an array of impressive accomplishments, including publishing scientific abstracts and peer-reviewed articles, gaining acceptance into medical and graduate school and winning scholarships and prizes. In 2005, TGen interns Albert Shieh and Anne Lee took first place in the team category at the 2005-2006 Siemens Westinghouse Competition in Math, Science and Technology. The interns split a $100,000 scholarship.