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HHMI grants connect research institutions with local schools

June 21, 2007

On June 21, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute formally announced that VCU was the recipient of a $750,000 grant to implement programs targeting teachers, community members and students highlighting applied systems biology. Some of these programs will involve hands-on workshops at the VCU Rice Center. Dr Richard Rezba, Director of the Center for Life Sciences Education is PI on this grant, which was one of only 32 awarded out of 297 applications.

Virginia is for science lovers

As researchers generate vast quantities of data about individual genes, proteins and signaling pathways, scientists are realizing that true understanding of complex biological systems requires studying how these components work together. By focusing on the cell or organism as a whole, rather than merely the sum of its parts, systems biologists hope to open new avenues to understanding, preventing and treating disease. To help train future scientists to think like systems biologists, VCU in Richmond is taking a similarly integrated approach. It will use its $750,000 grant from HHMI to implement programs targeting teachers, community members and students at many educational levels. Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows will introduce kindergarten through 12th grade science teachers to research techniques in workshops highlighting applied systems biology. This training will help teachers create activities that encourage students to design and conduct their own scientific inquiries. The HHMI grant will also support development of a systems biology component to VCU’s popular “Secrets of the Sequence” public education campaign, through which educators can download videos and accompanying lesson plans and activities. 

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