WVU Awarded $696,000 Grant for HSTA Programs

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia high school students will continue to explore science and medical careers through a West Virginia University School of Medicine program as part of a $696,000 grant renewal from Howard Hughes Medical Institute. 

Ann Chester, Ph.D., assistant vice president for social justice at the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center, received a five-year grant to continue the Health Sciences and Technology Academy (HSTA). 

HSTA unites nearly 800 students from rural West Virginia to engage in science and math education programs. Classroom sessions are taught by college faculty and public school teachers.  One such program is “Fun with Science,” a camp conducted on Marshall University’s campus where a typical day involves everything from gene-splicing in the morning to DNA analysis in the afternoon. 

“It is really important that these programs reach underserved youth well before they are high school seniors,” Chester said.  “The HHMI funded portion of our program is geared toward southern West Virginia counties like Cabell and Lincoln.”

“The program encourages minority and underrepresented students in rural communities to attend college,” she said.  “We want to show them that they have the ability to work toward a career in math, science, technology and related health fields.”

The grant comes as part of a $22.5 million initiative announced by HHMI to close the gap between research institutions and their local communities.

 “HSTA just scratches the surface of what West Virginia needs to inspire kids who have potential,” Chester said.  “What we do reaches so many students who otherwise might not even consider going to college.”

HSTA students participate in year-round clubs where they research health and science-related topics of their choosing and present their findings at an end of the year symposium.  Participants must be rising high school freshmen through seniors. 

"These grants provide a unique opportunity for the biomedical research community to provide hands-on experiences and rich content to students and teachers, extending their impact to a broader range of the education continuum," said Peter J. Bruns, HHMI's vice president for grants and special programs.

For more information on WVU’s School of Medicine visit www.hsc.wvu.edu/som/.                                       

- WVU -

For more information:
Amy Johns, HSC News Service, (304) 293-7087
cw: 06-25-06

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