Internship History

2013 JJ Vance Interns

August 9, 2013 – Nine high school interns and their mentors made the 2013 JJ Vance Memorial Summer Internship in the Biological and Computational Sciences an enormous success. After spending eight intense weeks working alongside faculty, postdoctoral associates, graduate students, and staff at the John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, the interns presented their work to family, friends, and their mentors at a celebratory luncheon.

The JJ Vance internship offers rising seniors from Miami-area high schools a unique opportunity to be directly involved in scientific research. The interns were selected from an extremely competitive applicant pool. Nearly 60 students representing 24 different Miami-area high schools applied to this year’s program. The accepted interns had an unprecedented 5.24 median grade point average.

The interns assisted researchers with ongoing projects including the genetics of Alzheimer’s disease, autism, Parkinson disease, hearing loss, and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. They learned laboratory and statistical techniques such as working with stem cells, Sanger sequencing, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), genetic analysis, and gel electrophoresis. Other students focused on learning programing, statistical and bioinformatics techniques used in modern genetic analyses. Since the internship is a paid program (as opposed to an academic credit only program that requires students to pay for their participation), students from every socioeconomic background have the opportunity to participate.

“Being a minority in my community and coming from a low income family, I never thought that these types of opportunities existed…This internship has opened up a lot of options with what I can do with my future,” reflected Julie Luo, an intern from Miami Lakes Educational Centerl.

“It has been an amazing eight weeks! I improved my lab skills, experienced a new way of thinking, and met really awesome people,” said intern Kassala Collington from North Miami Beach Senior High School.

Intern Tiffanie Henriquez from North Miami Senior High School added, “It was a great experience having hands-on learning, working with a team in a real lab.”

“Researching at the Hussman Institute has given me the unique experience of applying knowledge in functional and practical ways. It was interesting to observe the manipulation of how cells and nature work to achieve a common goal (through transformations, molecular cloning, viral treatment),” said Sachin Parekh, an intern from Gulliver Preparatory School.

The JJ Vance Memorial Summer Internship was established by Margaret A. Pericak-Vance, Ph.D., the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Professor of Human Genetics and director of the Hussman Institute, and Jeffery M. Vance, M.D., Ph.D., professor of human genetics and neurology and director of the Center for Genome Education and Outreach at the Hussman Institute, in memory of their son, Jeffery Joseph (JJ), who died of a rare blood clotting disorder (thrombotic storm) when he was 14. They began the internship in 2002 at Duke University, and just completed their fifth year of the program at the University of Miami.

The 2013 JJ Vance Memorial Summer Internship was made possible with funds from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the JJ Vance Foundation, the Hussman Foundation, and other generous donors.

Front Left: Loren Hernandez – American Senior, Michael Ivory – North Miami Senior High. Kevin Clark – Coral Reef Senior High, Sachin Parekh – Gulliver Preparatory School, Isabelle Csete – New World School of the Arts, Julie Luo – Miami Lakes Education Center, Kassala Collington – North Miami Beach Senior High, Briana Ramirez – Miami Jackson Senior High, Tiffanie Henriquez – North Miami Senior High.