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Thirty-seven College Students Participate in Regenerative Medicine Summer Research Program
Date:8/7/2008

Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative Marks 12th Year of Summer

Internship

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Twenty-four undergraduate students from colleges and universities, primarily across southwestern Pennsylvania and the Pittsburgh region, have taken part in the 12th annual Summer Internship Program of the Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative (PTEI). The goal of the program is to expose greatly increased numbers of our students to growing opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematic (STEM) related fields across the Pittsburgh region with the highly interdisciplinary field of tissue engineering as the focus. The program exposes two-year and four-year undergraduate students to the cutting-edge field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine (TERM) and provides real-world experience as they learn more about the wonders and, ultimately, applications of TERM as they work alongside the region's top-notch tissue engineering researchers and clinicians.

The Summer Internship Program showcases growing opportunities in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine and provides ten-week, paid internships. Each student is matched with an established researcher/clinician mentor who supervises his or her work. Students perform their own research and data analysis, and present their findings at a formal scientific poster session, which will be held at the end of the program, on Friday, August 8, 2008 at the Sheraton Hotel, at Pittsburgh's Station Square.

Regional sponsors, including the Fisher Fund of the Pittsburgh Foundation, Highmark Blue Cross and Blue Cross Blue Shield, UPMC Health Plan and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, focus on supporting by helping participants in the program to find permanent opportunities in southwestern Pennsylvania. PTEI is highly committed to providing the region's youth with opportunities available through the broad range of world-class research, educational and employers nearby.

A special National Science Foundation-supported component focuses on supporting the participation of under-represented minority students and students from primarily non-research academic institutions. These students come from a national applicant pool and contribute to the region's need to further grow our pool of talented youth and support our growing life sciences industry sector. Combined, this strategy enables PTEI to prevent regional "brain drain" and to enable regional "brain gain." An additional component pairs interns with U.S. Department of Defense collaborative researchers, who focus on utilizing tissue engineering and regenerative medicine research to address significant problems related to combat casualty care and wound healing. Sponsoring laboratories for all participants offer individualized projects for the interns.

Since the Summer Internship Program was initiated in 1997, 222 students, including the 2008 group, have taken part. The program has been enormously successful in encouraging participants to pursue postgraduate education. Of participants who have completed their undergraduate studies, 41% are now attending medical school; 25% are attending graduate school; and 10% are pursuing dual degrees. Of these, 36% are attending medical and/or graduate school in the southwestern Pennsylvania region.

"The Summer Internship Program is one of PTEI's oldest and most successful educational programs, and my favorite," said Joan Schanck, PTEI Director of Education. "It provides the priceless opportunity for young people to explore careers as basic scientists and clinicians within the field of tissue engineering and the broader field of regenerative medicine, as well as work alongside world-renowned, cutting edge researchers."

PTEI is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health of individuals by establishing the region as an internationally recognized center of excellence in research, education, and commercial development for the advancement of tissue-related medical therapies. PTEI's educational programs span K-12 through postdoctoral training. For more information, visit the PTEI web site at http://www.ptei.org.


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SOURCE Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative
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