Ethics, Education, and a love for science
The CSSC is run by miRcore, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that engages in biomedical research and education to improve healthcare outcomes through precision medicine. We are guided by three core values: science, compassion and collaboration, and a mission to democratize medical research since 2009. We have engaged primarily with high school students interested in computational biology, enabling them to learn and perform their own research while encouraging them to connect scientists and the public through microgrants.
High School Students
Our first initiative involves directly engaging with high school students. We first reach high school students through summer camps, introducing basic computational biology concepts to hundreds of students each year. After completing summer camps, students can join our core undertaking, the MiRcore Volunteer Program (MVP), held throughout the academic year. Here, we conduct in-depth sessions on performing their own group computational biology research using online data and resources. Students get to interact with accomplished scientists through fundraising for microgrants, hearing them speak at events, and even getting their eyes on group research before publication. Students often stay in MVP for multiple years during their high school years.
We’ve also started Lab on Wheels, visiting high school biology classes and collaborating with teachers to provide students hands-on wet and dry lab activities. In this way, we reached 3,900 students in local schools before the pandemic. More recently, we have introduced MiRcore Science Advocacy, which provides empathy training so students can have difficult conversations with people regarding biomedical issues they’re passionate about.
College and beyond
Our second initiative is to expand beyond the organization membership. We encourage MVP students to be ambassadors for science research by establishing GIDAS (Genes in Diseases and Symptoms) club chapters at their high schools and universities. These student leaders familiarize participants with MiRcore’s core content, run fundraisers, and enjoy constructive group activities. We also run conferences and contests throughout the school year to reach those outside the organization while allowing MiRcore members to present the results of their year-long research projects. Some parents form groups to pursue their own projects.
Our citizen-scientist sequence center is the next step in extending our mission beyond school and to the general public. We invite all stakeholders to the process of building a gene-literate citizenry owning its genomic data and trusting science.