Emory researchers awarded NIH grant for science education program

By Judy Fortin | Woodruff Health Sciences Center | June 6, 2016

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Winship Cancer Institute researchers Adam Marcus and Theresa Gillespie

Winship Cancer Institute researchers Adam Marcus, PhD and Theresa Gillespie, PhD are the recipients of an R25 Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the National Institutes of Health. Only one SEPA grant per institution is eligible for NIH funding throughout the U.S. The five-year award, totaling nearly $1.2 million, will create the Center for Advancing Health and Diversity through Citizen Science.

Marcus, an associate professor in the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology, says "Citizen Science is an approach to scientific research in which the general public, including students, collects and analyzes data for specific projects in collaboration with professional scientists."

Gillespie, who is a professor in the Department of Surgery, and Marcus have created the Citizen Science Health and Diversity (Citizen Science HD) curriculum to not only enable citizen science in the classroom, but provide the students an opportunity to impact human health and their own communities. Targeting the entire state of Georgia, which experiences high rates of cancer and chronic diseases as well as disparities, the SEPA grant will focus its efforts on urban underserved and rural Title I schools, and students who are under-represented in science, engineering, technology and math (STEM) fields, including girls and minorities.

The Citizen Science HD program encompasses three main components: after school STEM, a national Citizen Science STEM curriculum, and outreach throughout Georgia. It is estimated that Citizen Science HD will impact thousands of students in Georgia, the U.S. and globally through projects such as pollen counting and the effect on pediatric asthma; mapping food deserts and their role in community obesity and chronic disease rates; and using Big Data to answer research questions.

This award partners with the Georgia Department of Education; the Atlanta Clinical and Translational Science Institute (ACTSI) of Emory University, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Georgia Institute of Technology; Winship Cancer Institute; the Emory chapter of the Association of Women in Science; and other Emory investigators. Visit citizenscienceHD.com for more information and follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.