Janine Cadet speaks during the sixth annual Bridging the Gaps Summer Research Poster Day on Aug. 4 in the Broad CIRM Center.

Janine Cadet speaks during the sixth annual Bridging the Gaps Summer Research Poster Day on Aug. 4 in the Broad CIRM Center.

The Keck School of Medicine of USC hosted the sixth annual Bridging the Gaps Summer Research Poster Day on Aug. 4 in the Broad CIRM Center. Bridging the Gaps is a summer research program that provides underrepresented undergraduate students an opportunity to gain exposure to basic science, translational and clinical research at the Keck School.

The program began in the summer of 2011 and serves as a recruitment effort for the medical and graduate school programs. It runs for eight weeks in the laboratories of Keck faculty members who also serve as mentors for the students. This year, 15 students participated in the program, which culminated with a presentation of their research posters.

“I am always impressed with the magnitude of their accomplishments in such a short period of time,” said Joyce Richey, PhD, chief diversity officer and assistant dean for student affairs. “Understandably, students are not expected to or even able to complete a research project in the time allotted.  However, they all develop a full understanding of their respective research programs and some learn new investigative techniques.”

To date, 86 minority undergraduate students have participated in the program and 39 have matriculated into programs of their interests. Alumni of the summer program are now members of the Trojan family and are enrolled in MD, PhD and Global Medicine programs.

Janine Cadet, a senior at Princeton University, said she found the program provided experiences she hasn’t yet had.

“I really appreciate this experience and specifically the opportunities to shadow physicians,” explained Cadet, who presented her poster about the risks associated with driving and cell phone usage. “I was able to shadow a pulmonologist and a pediatric surgeon, so I gained exposure to areas that I haven’t previously been exposed to.”

Program participant Andrew Homere said the program gave him an opportunity to see a different side of medicine.

“I loved that we got to do a little bit of everything: we got to shadow physicians, hear lectures from different doctors and do our own research about something that we’re interested in,” explained Homere, who recently graduated from the University of Chicago. “It’s definitely a place I would want to come for medical school.”

by L. Alexis Young