NEW ORLEANS – Ochsner Clinic Foundation has received a 5-year, $1.25 million Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the National Institutes of Health to fund BEST Science!, a program administered by Ochsner’s Academic Division. BEST (Bioscience Enrichment for Students and Teachers) Science! is a partnership between Ochsner Medical Center, the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) and local school districts. Dr. Jawed Alam, Director of Ochsner’s Institute of Translational Research, and Dr. Paula Gregory, Associate Professor of Genetics at LSUHSC, serve as co-principal investigators of the project.
The overall objective of BEST Science! is to advance an interest in biomedical research and health sciences by New Orleans area high school students and to ultimately stimulate further education and vocation in these areas.
“The global demand for biomedical professionals is expanding rapidly,” said Jean May-Brett, the Math Science Partnership Director for the Louisiana Department of Education. “BEST Science! provides a pathway for encouraging student interest in the bioscience disciplines at this critical time. BEST Science! is designed to provide opportunities that will have a positive impact on teachers’ practices and student awareness of careers in the bioscience fields.”
The program offerings include paid summer professional development workshops for teachers, curriculum supplements including hands-on laboratory modules directly aligned with Louisiana grade-level expectations and laboratory supply kits available on loan during the academic school year. Scientists, physicians and other faculty from Ochsner, LSUHSC and other local institutions of higher learning have committed to participate in the teacher workshops and assist teachers and students throughout the school year. BEST Science! is projected to impact more than 11,000 students and at least 130 teachers in the New Orleans Metropolitan Area through 2017.
"We realize that educating our future workforce requires partnering with the school systems,” said Dr. William Pinsky, Chief Academic Officer and Executive Vice-President of Ochsner Health System. “There is no better way of supporting the students than by supporting the professional development of their teachers. We see this program as vital to the continuation of the Ochsner mission and legacy through the youth of our community."
The BEST Science! teacher workshops will kick off in the summer of 2013, and the laboratory module kits will be available in the 2013-2014 school year.
Only 16 SEPA grants were awarded nationwide in 2012, and the grant to Ochsner is one of only two awarded in the entire state of Louisiana to date; LSUHSC-Shreveport received a SEPA grant in 2010 for the community education project called Biostart: Clinical Research and Education Experiences.
For more information about Academic Outreach at Ochsner or to get involved, contact Allison Sharai at EducationOutreach@ochsner.org or visit the Academic Outreach website (http://academics.ochsner.org/outreach.aspx).
For more information about the NIH SEPA program, visit www.nihsepa.org.
About Academic Outreach
Academic Outreach, a department in the Academic Division of Ochsner Clinic Foundation, serves the community and maintains Ochsner’s position as a global academic leader by supporting educational development, providing unique academic resources, and connecting students and teachers with innovative academic opportunities. Academic Outreach supports the advancement of K-12 science and health career education in the New Orleans Metropolitan Area through the STAR summer scholars program, iLab outreach student laboratory, job shadow and field trip programs, and numerous school district and individual school partnerships that reach almost 2,000 students each year.
Ochsner Health System is southeast Louisiana’s largest non-profit, academic, multi-specialty, healthcare delivery system with eight hospitals and 38 health centers in Louisiana. Ochsner has been named the Consumer Choice for Healthcare in New Orleans for 16 consecutive years and is the only Louisiana hospital recognized by U.S. News and World Report as a “Best Hospital” across 11 specialty categories. Ochsner employs more than 13,000 employees, over 850 physicians in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties and conducts over 300 clinical research trials annually. Ochsner Health System is proud to be a tobacco-free environment. For more information, please visit ochsner.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.