CHOP Research, Science Leadership Academy Form Partnership

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute and the Science Leadership Academy (SLA), a Philadelphia public high school focused on the sciences, recently formed a new partnership under which SLA students are working in CHOP labs. By being mentored by CHOP investigators, SLA students are able to contribute to a variety of studies while also getting a feel for the daily work of a career in science.

First opened in 2006, SLA is a partnership high school with The Franklin Institute that “provides a rigorous, college-preparatory curriculum with a focus on science, technology, mathematics and entrepreneurship.” According to the school’s website, SLA students have been accepted at prestigious colleges around the country, including the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, Oberlin College, and Colby College.

The students are working at CHOP Research as part of SLA’s Individualized Learning Plan (ILP) program, which prepares students for adulthood by giving them the chance to work in organizations around Philadelphia. Students are placed in an array of Philadelphia institutions, from the Academy of Natural Sciences to the Philadelphia Zoo.

“SLA is incredibly excited for this partnership,” said SLA’s Jeremy Spry, manager of the ILP program. “One of the goals of Science Leadership Academy is to help inspire young Philadelphians to give back to their community in every way possible,” Spry said, so this chance to work closely with CHOP faculty and staff will be “invaluable.”

CHOP’s half of the SLA partnership is jointly administered by Raymond Colliton, MS, director of CHOP Research’s Office of Research Safety, Wendy Williams, PhD, and Jodi Leckrone, MEd, director and assistant director, respectively, of the Office of Responsible Research Training.

The students are able to work in the researchers’ laboratories under CHOP Research’s Minors in Research Laboratories Policy, which establishes parameters to ensure the safety of minors. In addition, prior to being placed in the investigators’ labs, the SLA students underwent comprehensive safety training, Colliton noted.

Six SLA students have been paired with five Children’s Hospital investigators from a number of disciplines. Pathologist Yair Argon, PhD, geneticist Ian Krantz, MD, cartilage and bone researcher Motomi Enomoto-Iwamoto, PhD, gastroenterologist Randy Matthews, MD, PhD, and anesthesiologist Francis McGowan, MD, are all currently hosting SLA students. The students, who began working in October, tend to work in the researchers’ labs for two to five hours one day a week, said CHOP’s Jodi Leckrone.

“By exposing these students to research at CHOP, we hope to not only provide them with practical, applicable laboratory skills but also foster an interest in science, research and medicine,” said Dr. Williams.

The new CHOP-SLA partnership is just the latest example of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s commitment to educating the next generation of scientists and clinicians. CHOP Research offers educational programs at all levels, from those geared for physician fellows to those intended for undergraduates. To learn more about CHOP Research’s educational programs, click here.

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