Emerging Young Scientists and Entrepreneurs Present at UNE Summer Research Symposium

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A dozen of New England’s brightest emerging scientists gathered today at University of New England to celebrate a unique student research and entrepreneurship program now in its second year. The students presented their capstone research projects as part of UNE’s Summer Internship Program, developed by UNE’s Center for Excellence in the Neurosciences (CEN).

I learned I could make a noticeable difference in expanding Maine biotechnology through work with a local company. -- Student intern Alexander Colville

The brainchild of Center for Excellence in the Neurosciences Director Ed Bilsky, Ph.D., the Summer Internship Program focuses on medicine, research and entrepreneurship. Bilsky is also UNE associate provost for research and scholarship and a professor of pharmacology in the UNE College of Osteopathic Medicine, as well as co-founder of two Maine-based companies that are developing treatments for chronic pain and addiction. He works closely with biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, including several that are also Maine-based.

The CEN Summer Internship Program introduces talented high school and college students to the principles of neuroscience and pharmacology, translational biomedical research, and entrepreneurship. The fellows learn firsthand how discoveries in UNE research labs are being developed as possible treatments for neurological and psychiatric disorders. They also interact with leaders from the Maine business community to see how they are working with nonprofit research institutions to further develop products and grow their companies.

Over the past nine weeks, the fellows have partnered with UNE undergraduate student mentors involved with research activities in Dr. Bilsky’s lab. Today’s presentations ranged from insights into post-traumatic stress disorder, to shedding light on osteoarthritis pain, to the integration of neuroscience modules into K-12 science education.

CEN student intern Trevor Luck of Kennebunk, Maine, says, “I've dreamed of being a doctor since I was in middle school, and only saw myself in the patient care side of medicine. I never considered the research and business side because I knew very little of it. But now, thanks to my exposure to the faces of medicine I've gained through this internship, my horizons have broadened." Alex Colville, an intern from Scarborough, Maine, adds, "The program’s mix of entrepreneurship with traditional neuroscience and academia has provided me with a multitude of lessons I would have otherwise never learned. Most importantly, I learned I could make a noticeable difference in expanding Maine biotechnology through work with a local company.”

Today’s symposium keynote speaker was Dr. Daniel Carr, professor at Tufts University School of Medicine and director of its program in Pain Research Education and Policy.

UNE’s CEN Summer Internship Program was made possible through support provided by ClearH2O, the Michael T. Goulet Traumatic Brain Injury and Epilepsy Foundation, Sea Run Holdings, and Marine Plastics, and though the generosity of the Dave and Melinda Anderson Foundation, the Pond Family Foundation, and Edward and Jill Bilsky.

The University of New England is an innovative health sciences university grounded in the liberal arts. UNE has internationally recognized scholars in the liberal arts, sciences, health and medicine; offers more than 40 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs; and is home to Maine’s only medical school. Its two distinctive campuses in Biddeford and Portland, Maine offer student-centered interprofessional programs in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, Westbrook College of Health Professions, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Pharmacy, and College of Graduate Studies. The College of Dental Medicine will enroll its inaugural class in 2013. For more information, visit http://www.une.edu.

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Kathleen Taggersell
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