Undergraduates to Spend the Summer SPINning at BUSM


In an effort to engage the next generation of researchers and physicians during a time when they have the freedom to explore numerous options that might ultimately affect their career path, BUSM is offering the Summer Program in Neuroscience (SPIN).

This eight-week intensive program in neuroscience which begins in June, offers undergraduate students classroom instruction, hands-on research experience and clinical exposure to simulate the experience of working towards an advanced degree.

SPIN provides the opportunities to expose participants to a series of profound experiences that they otherwise wouldn’t take part in until graduate school. “Time in neuroscience research labs, in the neurosurgery clinic and operating room, in addition to the classroom learning human neuroanatomy and dissecting brains each has the potential to inspire students. It is when these experiences are put together that something special is generated: students can directly see the interplay between neurosurgery, knowledge of the brain and research skills,” said Mark Moss, PhD, Waterhouse professor and chairman of anatomy and neurobiology at BUSM.

The majority of applicants to SPIN are college sophomores and juniors. Although neuroscience was the most common major among the applicants, biology, psychology, biochemistry and biomedical engineering were also represented. Nearly 50 applications were submitted for the 10 open positions. This is the second year BUSM has offered the program, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation to integrate neuroscience research, hands-on teaching of human neuroanatomy and clinical neurosurgery.

“Many of the students will return to their undergraduate work hopefully inspired to pursue a career in neuroscience, medicine or the sciences in general,” said Hee-Young Park, PhD, professor and chairman of medical sciences and education, and assistant dean of graduate medical sciences at BUSM.  “We hope these students take with them an appreciation of the partnership between research and education in academia and the benefits of being mentored by established researchers and instructors.”

SPIN grew out of discussions and interactions between faculty members in BUSM’s and Boston Medical Center’s (BMC) departments of neurosurgery and anatomy and neurobiology.  “It occurred to us that we could combine our love for the brain, our interest in education and research and the resources at our disposal to present a program with a unique perspective on the scientific, surgical, anatomical and clinical perspectives on the brain,” explained James Holsapple, MD, chair of the department of neurosurgery at BUSM.  “The program we envisioned could only be offered at a top-flight medical school with outstanding neuroscience research labs, an active neurosurgery service and an expertise in neuroanatomy and education,” added Holsapple, who also is chief of neurosurgery at BMC.