Internship History

2011 JJ Vance Interns

The 2011 JJ Vance Memorial summer interns celebrated the successful completion of a challenging 8-week research program, working alongside expert faculty and post-doctoral fellows at the John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics, on August 2. The interns were joined by their families and mentors for a luncheon in which they were given the opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge that they attained from their internship experiences.

The JJ Vance Memorial summer internship in biological and computational sciences offers rising seniors from Miami-area high schools a unique opportunity to gain hands-on research experience. The eight interns were selected from the most competitive applicant pool in the history of the internship program. This year, close to 50 of the area’s brightest students representing 15 different high schools applied for one of the coveted internship positions.

For the first time since the internship program began, the interns were each assigned to work with a different study team at the HIHG. “This summer, I’ve been helping with the Alzheimer’s disease research. I’ve learned how to use PCR-sequencing and gels in order to validate the genotypes of some interesting SNPs,” said 2011 JJ Vance Memorial summer intern, Alyssa Civantos.

Intern Alexander Shahin, who worked with the HIHG’s Parkinson’s disease team, stated, “Throughout my stay at the lab, I gained invaluable experience by performing my own research with help from well-trained experts.”

Intern Neil Mehta, who worked with a team of researchers studying Rett Syndrome, said, “At the JJ Vance internship, I’ve learned real life science applications that I would not have learned in the classroom otherwise, so I would encourage high school students my age who are interested in science to apply to these programs to get hands-on experience in the labs.”
“I really want to thank the Vances for this opportunity. The memories will always be in my mind,” said Danny Arzu, an intern who worked with the HIHG’s Genetics of Exercise and Research (G.E.A.R.) team.

The JJ Vance Memorial summer internship was established by Margaret A. Pericak-Vance, Ph.D., director of the HIHG, and Jeffery M. Vance, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Department of Human Genetics, in the memory of their son, Jeffery Joseph (JJ), who died of a blood clotting disorder at 14.


Kehinde Alonge (Miami Palmetto Senior High School). Mentor: Ioanna Konidari. Kehinde is interested in genetics and the application of biotechnology to address genetic disorders such as autism.



Danny Arzu (Booker T. Washington Senior High School). Mentors: Jeff Farmer, Richard Belton. Danny aspires to work in the sports medicine or sports management field, and he hopes that the Genetics of Exercise And Research (GEAR) program at the HIHG will expand his knowledge and experience in the fields.

Alyssa Civantos (Ransom Everglades School). Mentor: Martin Kohli, Ph.D. Alyssa is interested in a career as a medical researcher. As a JJ Vance Memorial summer intern, she looks forward to the opportunity to do hands-on research alongside faculty and post-doctoral fellows.


David Green (Booker T. Washington Senior High School). Mentor: Dale Hedges, Ph.D. David is very interested in medical science, and would like to work towards finding medical cures. He is excited to learn more about genetics because he hopes to gain more knowledge about certain diseases and disorders that occur in individuals.

Johan “Matteo” Kruijssen (Ransom Everglades School). Mentor: Gary Beecham, Ph.D. Matteo is considering a college major and future career path in science and medicine. This internship will give him the opportunity to work in a real laboratory alongside skilled scientists who can help further develop his career interests.

Albert Liu (Miami Palmetto Senior High School). Mentor: Derek Dkyxhoorn, Ph.D. Albert would like to pursue a career path as a scientist and to one day teach at a university.




Neil Mehta (Miami Country Day School). Mentor: Shaun Brothers, Ph.D. Neil plans to pursue a career related to the human medical field because of his passion for science and its potential to better the lives of millions. Through the JJ Vance Memorial summer internship, Neil hopes to learn techniques in research that will help him reach his goals.

Alexander Shahin (Archimedean Upper Conservatory). Mentor: Jeffery M. Vance, M.D., Ph.D. Alexander hopes that the JJ Vance Memorial Summer Internship will help him to expand on his research knowledge and that it will help him to pursue his dream of becoming a medical practitioner.