Helios-TGen Scholar earns tuition waiver at ASU; summer 2010 applications now available

March 2, 2010

By hammersmith

Helios-TGen Scholar earns tuition waiver at ASU; program applications now available



[Source: Helios Education Foundation] — Helios Education Foundation invested over $6.5 million in the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) to create and support the Helios Scholars Program, an internship program at TGen, for the next 25 years. Each summer, 45 high-school, undergraduate, and graduate students come to participate in a hands-on internship at TGen where they are introduced to high-tech bioscience research.

One recent Helios TGen Scholar, Sarah Albinda, has been named to the 2010 Coca-Cola All-State Academic Team, earning a two-year tuition waiver that will enable her to complete her science education at Arizona State University. Without the award, Albinda said, she would not have enough money to seek her bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences after graduating this spring with an Associate in Science Degree from Phoenix College.

The academic competition is sponsored by Arizona Phi Theta Kappa, the American Association of Community Colleges, USA TODAY and Coca-Cola, and recognizes outstanding community college students for their commitment to academic achievement, leadership and community service.

“There is no way I could have won without participating in the Helios Scholars program at TGen. Here, I have so many resources available, and that gave me a significant advantage, including competitive hands-on experience and access to amazing people,” said Albinda, who works in the laboratory of Dr. Heather Cunliffe, Head of TGen’s Breast and Ovarian Cancer Research Unit.

Albinda said she did not have the money to continue her education without taking out a loan and putting undue financial pressure on her family. Winning the award solved that problem.

“When I heard about this scholarship, I thought, ‘Wow, this is my dream.’ Personally, it means a lot to be able to pay for my own education. My goal is to be able to graduate without ever having to take out a loan for tuition,” Albinda said. Albinda plans to become a medical doctor, using what she has learned at TGen to help cancer patients.

Albinda’s mentor, TGen Research Associate Catherine Mancini said Albinda’s success is a credit to the Helios program and the high-caliber research opportunities provided by TGen.

“Helios provides a whole new level of opportunity for students. It is a diverse program and this is a diverse job,” Mancini said. “We were excited to work with Sarah because of her interdisciplinary skills which we needed for her position as a biospecimen technician in our laboratory. Because of her abilities, she was able to continue her internship and extend her skills at TGen. She has definitely exceeded our expectations.”

TGen is on the cutting edge of translational research where investigators are able to unravel the genetic components of common and complex diseases. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities, TGen believes it can make a substantial contribution to the efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. TGen is affiliated with the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

Helios Scholars Program Applications Now Available

The Helios Scholars Program at TGen is an eight week paid internship where students work under the mentorship of an experienced investigator and their scientific teams. Interns conduct authentic research, receive training in biosafety, ethics, career choices and science communication, give an oral presentation to their peers on their research, and create and present a scientific poster.

The application for the upcoming summer internship is now available.

Students participating in the internship will work to elucidate the mysteries and mechanisms of genetic diseases such as Alzheimer’s, ALS, autism, breast cancer, prostate cancer, melanoma and diabetes, as well as infectious diseases such as influenza.

The program capstone includes participation in a formal symposium where interns communicate the findings of their research and reflect on what they have learned and accomplished throughout their tenure at TGen.

Past interns boast an array of impressive accomplishments – publishing scientific abstracts and articles, and gaining acceptance into medical and graduate schools.

For more information and to access the application, click here.