The Outreach department at the McDonnell Genome Institute is leading the way in educating the public about genomics and its impact on society. The group was established in 2003 in response to the National Human Genome Research Institute's (NHGRI) Minority Action Plan (MAP).
The Outreach department reaches out to the St. Louis community by visiting local schools, giving talks and teaching hands-on science activities to K-12 students. The group also conducts tours of the institute, invites groups to perform experiments in the facility's labs and provides internships for undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds.
Education programs within the Outreach department aim to increase the number of underrepresented students who pursue Ph.D.s in genomics and related fields. The group seeks to establish mutually beneficial partnerships with minority-serving institutions to help create a pipeline for students to join the departments' research programs. They also facilitate public interaction with the McDonnell Genome Institute to educate the public, stimulate interest in genome sciences and medicine, and measure the overall impact of these interactions.
In accordance with the MAP, the Outreach Department has developed an umbrella program, Opportunities in Genomics Research (OGR). All programs within OGR are designed to encourage and promote diversity in genomics and genetics as well as to educate the general public about these fields of study. OGR is structured as follows:
Opportunities in Genomics Research (OGR):
The Opportunities in Genomics Research (OGR) program is designed to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups who will pursue Ph.D.'s. OGR provides activities to prepare undergraduate students and recent college graduates in areas essential to enter highly competitive graduate programs. At least 65% of these participants will enter graduate school and obtain Ph.D.'s in the genomic sciences. With the participation of these students in the OGR program, we are helping to close the gap in underrepresentation of people from diverse backgrounds in the scientific workforce.
OGR consists of two programs: an eight-week summer program (Undergraduate Scholars) and a one-year post-baccalaureate program (Extensive Study).
In addition to student outreach, we remain committed to the community at large and provide seminars focused on health disparities in genomics that are made available to the public and health advocacy groups. We also provide presentations and tours of the institute.
Each year we organize classroom activities for National DNA Day, which commemorates the completion of the Human Genome Project in April 2003 and the discovery of DNA's double helix structure in April 1953.
Our efforts with the OGR program and community outreach are helping to enhance diversity in the scientific workforce as well as enhancing the public's knowledge of genomics and its relevance to human health.