The NCC Summer Research Experience Program offers students a unique opportunity to dive into a career in clinical research

December 4, 2013 – The program allows high school and college students an opportunity to get hands-on experience with clinical research.

Enrollment is under way for the second year of a novel summer research program offered by the DCRI, which was met with rave reviews by last year’s participants. The program offers high school and college students, as well as high school teachers, an opportunity to experience a practical, hands-on approach to clinical research and demonstrates what a successful career in this field can look like.

The North Carolina Collaborative (NCC) Summer Research Experience Program is a partnership between the DCRI, Durham public schools, North Carolina Central University (NCCU), and Duke University. The program is led by the DCRI’s Vivian Chu, MD, Kristen O’Berry, and Danny Benjamin, MD, and focuses on pharmaco-epidemiological research methodology and clinical writing skills. Other faculty and staff involved with the program include adult medicine and pediatric faculty members, a writing instructor, a statistician, and clinical research operations staff.

The program plays an important role in preparing today’s students for a career in the rapidly changing health care field. Clinical research is actively shaping and improving the existing patient care model, and its impact on how patients are diagnosed and treated is only going to grow. It is more important than ever to attract young scientists into clinical research fields that will help determine the care of tomorrow. Involving high school teachers in the program helps to ensure that school curricula reflect the cutting-edge research practices employed today in the sciences.

“I’m pretty set on being a doctor, and I was strongly considering pursuing internal medicine,” said Duke University student James Tian, who completed the first NCC Summer Research Experience Program. “In the past, I have spent some time in a basic science lab, and I found that experience to be very stressful and repetitive. The Summer Research Program, however, showed me that there is a way to combine these two fields and that not all research is so repetitive. After this program, I can really see myself pursuing clinical research in the future.”

Students in the program are paired with a Duke faculty member to work on an original, hypothesis-driven project, with a goal of having every student qualify as a co-author on a peer-reviewed manuscript. They meet with their mentors weekly and conclude the program with a formal presentation and a written thesis of their research.

The program runs for 8 weeks in the summer. It is open to high school students from Durham public schools, Chapel Hill public schools, the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, NCCU undergraduate students, and Duke University undergraduate students. To apply and learn more about the NCC Summer Research Experience program, visit the NCC program website.