Press Release June 23, 2016

Gift of $248,000 launches Petit Family Foundation Women in Genomics Initiative at The Jackson Laboratory

Gift of $248,000 launches Petit Family Foundation Women in Genomics Initiative at The Jackson Laboratory

Farmington, Conn. — A four-year, $248,000 gift to The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) from the Petit Family Foundation of Plainville, Conn., will support a new initiative for promising young women pursuing careers in science and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education through participation in programs offered through JAX Genomic Education.

The newly created Petit Family Foundation Women in Genomics Initiative will establish the Petit Family Foundation Summer Student Fellowship, Student Teacher Fellow, Teaching the Genome Generation Teacher Fellowship and Teaching the Genome Generation Implementation Fund.

“The Jackson Laboratory is a leader in empowering young women in science through their educational programs in concert with their exploration of the genetic basis of human diseases.” says Petit Family Foundation President William A. Petit Jr., M.D. “We believe our support will help young women pursue careers and paths to leadership in STEM professions.”

JAX President and CEO Edison Liu, M.D., comments, “Women have made significant contributions to our research and scientific community, and that’s a legacy that extends all the way back to our founding in 1929. We are most grateful for the vision of the Petit Family Foundation in expanding and creating new opportunities for women pursuing science and science education.”

Over the four-year grant period, the Petit Family Foundation Summer Student Fellowship will fund participation of four talented female high school or college students in the historic and highly selective JAX Summer Student Program. Under the guidance of a mentor, students integrate into an ongoing research program, develop an independent project, implement their plan, analyze the data and report their results.

Each year of the grant the Petit Family Foundation Student Teacher Fellowship will support a woman pursuing her degree in high school math or science education in a year-long fellowship at The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, where she will develop the pedagogical tools to become highly proficient in the most current practices and innovative genomics curriculum for STEM education.

The Petit Family Teaching the Genome Generation Teacher Fellowship will fund the participation of 10 teachers from Connecticut schools in Teaching the Genome Generation,™ a one-week, intensive summer professional development program on genomics and genetics. The Petit Family Teaching the Genome Generation Implementation Fund will help to cover the costs of incorporating the new genomics curriculum in Connecticut schools, including the costs of a mobile lab unit, consumable laboratory supplies, shipping and staff assistance from JAX.

The Jackson Laboratory offers educational programs for scientists throughout their careers—from STEM education for high school students and training for science and math teachers to courses and conferences for experienced researchers defining the cutting edge of genomics research and specialized training for physicians interested in incorporating genetics and genomics into their practices.

The Petit Family Foundation honors the memories of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, Hayley Elizabeth Petit and Michaela Rose Petit by continuing the kindness, idealism and activism that defined their lives. The Foundation's funds are given to foster the education of young people, especially women in the sciences; to improve the lives of those affected by chronic illness; and to support efforts to protect and help those affected by violence.

The Jackson Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution based in Bar Harbor, Maine, with a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center, a facility in Sacramento, Calif., and a genomic medicine institute in Farmington, Conn. It employs 1,700 staff, and its mission is to discover precise genomic solutions for disease and empower the global biomedical community in the shared quest to improve human health.