Yale summer program plants seeds of interest in science and medicine

Over 80% of the high school students who have participated in Yale's Discovery to Cure Internship Program have gone on to pursue careers in medicine and science, says the program's founder, Dr. Gil Mor.
Yale's Discovery to Cure Internship Program was established in 2003 by Dr. Gil Mor, professor of obstetrics, gynecology & reproductive sciences, with the goal of exposing students from local schools to Yale's biomedical laboratories to open their minds to pursure career opportunities in science and medicine. In 2013 program has grown to include over 35 schools from throughout the country as well as internationally.

“After listening to all of you, I know the future of science is secure,” said Dr. Gil Mor, to the 36 students participating in the 11th annual Discovery to Cure High School Internship Program. The students from several New Haven-area high schools convened at Harkness Auditorium on Aug. 23 to present the results of six weeks of research conducted in different research labs at Yale School of Medicine.

The students — who spent the summer working with a postdoctoral fellow, graduate student, or laboratory technician in ongoing research projects — studied topics ranging from infertility and ovarian cancer, to hepatitis and osteoporosis.

Mor, a professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences, started the program in 2003 to address the concern that there was declining interest in science among young people.

The program is now bigger, even more competitive, and is producing results. Mor said 175 students applied this year for 36 spots. Among past participants, over 80% have gone on to pursue careers in science and medicine.

While Mor takes pride in the impact the program has made on the participants and for research in general, he is also concerned that federal cuts to research could have a negative impact on the program’s survival.

“Our program receives generous support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), but we also rely on researchers to donate their time and lab space to our students,” said Mor. “Without sustained funding for their research labs, we stand to lose the teaching and research opportunities we currently enjoy.”

While the threat of cuts is a real worry for Mor, for now he relishes the program’s success. “With the continued support of NIH, I am confident that scientific research and discovery will not only thrive, but flourish in the hands of young people like the Discovery to Cure High School Internship participants,” he said.

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Karen N. Peart: karen.peart@yale.edu, 203-980-2222