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Wistar’s Hubert J.P. Schoemaker Education and Training Center Receives National Science Foundation REU Grant

PHILADELPHIA — (DECEMBER 1, 2022) — The National Science Foundation (NSF) has granted a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) grant to The Wistar Institute’s Hubert J.P. Schoemaker Education and Training Center totaling more than $400,000 for three years. The Center will use this grant to create a new program, Molecular Basis of Cellular Phenotypes, for undergraduate students who may not have access to research opportunities to continue their academic studies in graduate school.

“We are excited to receive this grant from the National Science Foundation,” said David Zuzga, Ph.D., associate dean of Biomedical Studies, associate professor at the Hubert J.P. Schoemaker Education and Training Center, and principal investigator on the grant. “We have such a great basic science research enterprise at Wistar, and having undergraduates gain exposure with our training lab and active research projects will help foster their interest and prepare them for advanced degrees in life sciences.”

The goal of The Wistar Institute’s REU program, Molecular Basis of Cellular Phenotypes, is to recruit students from two- and four-year institutions from across the nation – especially those from underserved and/or underrepresented backgrounds – and provide them with an immersive laboratory research experience, mentorship, and support to help them complete undergraduate degrees and embark on successful graduate careers in the life sciences.

The program will train ten students for ten weeks each year during the summers of 2023-2025. Participants will first undergo a two-week intensive lab orientation designed to increase student confidence and productivity – a component that sets apart Wistar’s REU program from REU programs that begin directly with an internship experience. During this time, students participate in hands-on training in molecular and cellular biology techniques and are prepared to work in a research lab.

Following orientation, students will be assigned an eight-week research internship in a Wistar lab based on their scientific interests. Faculty mentors from each of Wistar’s research programs: Gene Expression & Regulation; Immunology, Microenvironment & Metastasis; Molecular & Cellular Oncogenesis; and Vaccine & Immunotherapy will offer exciting projects for undergraduates. Furthermore, cohort-building activities and weekly group workshops with topics covering science communication, research ethics, and graduate school applications will be offered.

Zuzga shares, “This REU program could make a national footprint. Our goal is that REU becomes a consistent Wistar program, raising the visibility of the collaborative graduate programs we offer and inspiring our participants to return to the Institute for graduate training.”

Dario Altieri, M.D., president and chief executive officer, director of the Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center, and the Robert and Penny Fox Distinguished Professor at The Wistar Institute shares, “Wistar is a single mission Institute with a focus on science – how we carry it out and how we train the next generation of biomedical researchers. This REU grant makes an immediate impact on our education and training efforts. Our focused approach now applies to students across the nation and encourages the pursuit of higher education in biomedical research.”

Wistar’s Hubert J.P. Schoemaker Education and Training Center is home to flagship pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs, including the Biomedical Technician Training Program and the Fox Biomedical Research Technician Apprenticeship. By focusing on the academic pathway and advanced degree preparation, the new REU program, Molecular Basis of Cellular Phenotypes, is complementary to Wistar’s existing programs for workforce development. This NSF grant will enable the Center to expand on initiatives recently launched by Wistar’s Bold Science // Global Impact five-year strategic plan and amplify the growth and impact of the Center.

The REU program Molecular Basis of Cellular Phenotypes will begin recruitment late 2022 and start in Summer 2023. Travel, accommodation expenses, and stipends are provided for participants.

To learn more and apply, visit Wistar Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program.


The Wistar Institute, the first independent nonprofit biomedical research institute in the United States, marshals the talents of an international team of outstanding scientists through a highly enabled culture of biomedical collaboration and innovation, to solve some of the world’s most challenging and important problems in the field of cancer, immunology, and infectious diseases, and produce groundbreaking advances in world health. Consistent with a pioneering legacy of leadership in not-for-profit biomedical research and a track record of life-saving contributions in immunology and cell biology, Wistar scientists pursue novel and courageous research paths to life science discovery, and to accelerate the impact of early-stage discoveries by shortening the path from bench to bedside.

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