Training scientists for the future

training future scientists

HHMI three-year grant will support JAX education programs

For most of us, lifelong learning is a goal; for biomedical researchers, it’s an imperative. Fields and techniques that barely existed a decade ago — such as cancer immunology, gene editing, the microbiome and single-cell sequencing — are transforming the study of human health and disease.

To help keep researchers ahead of the learning curve, Jackson Laboratory Genomic Education (JAX-GE) presents a wide range of in-person and online courses and workshops. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has made a three-year grant totaling $900,000 to support JAX-GE advanced courses for talented graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and early-career faculty who will be future leaders in biomedical research and education.

HHMI has been supporting JAX education programs for 13 years, including funding for the world-renowned  Human and Mammalian Genetics and Genomics: The McKusick Short CourseThis course includes daily lectures in the mornings and evenings as well as afternoon mini-symposia, workshops, tutorials, demonstrations and a poster session. There is special emphasis on student-faculty interaction. The faculty is diverse in terms of disciplines and the students in terms of stage of career and fields of concentration. This diversity makes for an enriching experience for all. Although the course schedule is quite full, there is time set aside to enjoy the natural beauty of Mt. Desert Island and Acadia National Park.McKusick Short Course in human and mammalian genetics and genomics, presented each year with Johns Hopkins University at the JAX headquarters campus in Bar Harbor, Maine.

 The McKusick Short Course at 60: Bringing genetics to medicineGenetics is changing medicine from a “one size fits all” approach to treatments and preventive measures targeted at each individual’s unique genetic makeup. Today genetics makes up an increasing part of a medical student’s curriculum, and an annual course in coastal Maine has had an outsized role in that evolution.Over six decades , the scientists making up the Short Course faculty are a virtual who’s who of the biomedical research world. Gregg Semenza, who shares the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, first attended the Short Course as a student in 1986 and has served on the faculty each year since 1990.

“The Short Course is the most incredible survey of experimental mammalian and medical genetics available anywhere in the world,” Semenza says, “and I remain a student who learns something new every year that I attend the course.”

In the past three years, HHMI funding has helped to support 110 advanced genomic education courses and workshops at JAX, including 12 new programs, engaging a total of 3,339 learners. The new offerings range from hands-on workshops on long-read sequencing technologies and advanced surgical techniques to  The Whole ScientistJoin us to expand your professional skills as you embark on a fulfilling science career.The Whole Scientist training to help young scientists prepare for the next steps in their careers.

Besides Bar Harbor, programs are presented at the JAX Genomic Medicine campus in Farmington, Conn., in La Jolla, Calif., at the Sorbonne Université in Paris and other locations. There is also a growing roster of web-based offerings such as  JAX Online MicroLessons and MiniCoursesSelf-paced online learning from the genetics and genomics experts at The Jackson Laboratory, designed for graduate and postdoctoral students, research assistants, early career scientists, lab technicians and advanced undergraduates with a background in biology.Online MiniCourses , as well as increasing online access and course materials for in-person courses.

The HHMI grant provides significant scholarship funding to offset course fees for those who are from populations that are underrepresented in biomedical sciences, or who lack the resources to attend in-person programs. “JAX Genomic Education is thrilled to work with HHMI as a partner to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts,” says Brent Berwin, Ph.D., director of JAX Courses and Conferences.