Summer Program in Neuroscience
The Summer Program in Neuroscience (SPIN) is an annual 8-week program for undergraduates hosted at Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center. It began in 2016 as a collaboration between the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology (Dr. Jarrett Rushmore) and the Department of Neurosurgery (Dr. James Holsapple, Chair), and has expanded to include faculty participants in neurology, neuropathology, neuroradiology, neuro oncology, and neuro radio oncology. Since the first session in 2016, 10-15 undergraduate students have been selected each summer to participate in a variety of structured clinical, didactic, and mentored research activities designed to enhance their understanding of the brain, medicine, neuroscience, and neuroscience research.
These experiences are divided into three parts:
Didactics. Twice a week, students learn neuroscience and neuroanatomy through small group lectures / discussions and hands-on neuroanatomy labs. The curriculum and content of the neuroanatomy labs and lectures are at the medical/graduate school level and delivered by an award-winning medical educator. Small group sessions cover the organization of the central nervous system and clinical cases are used to illustrate the anatomy and function of the brain and spinal cord. Neuroanatomy laboratories allow students to explore the anatomy presented in lectures by guided dissection exercises using real human brain specimens. With human brain specimens in hand, students learn about the relationship between the nervous system organization and function, and how this relationship is disrupted in disease.
Clinical. Students are exposed to the function and organization of the brain by viewing it from a clinical perspective and in the operating room. They rotate in the neurology and neurosurgery clinic where fundamentals of the neurological assessment and examination are taught, attend histopathologic review sessions in small groups with a trained neuropathologist and brain “cutting” sessions with pathology staff and residents in the hospital morgue, participate in the review and interpretation of radiographic studies of the human brain and spinal cord with a neuroradiologist, round with the neurosurgery residents in the neurointensive care unit and neurological hospital wards, and observe multiple cranial and spinal neurosurgical procedures. Students also attend weekly neurosurgical didactic sessions for neurosurgery fellows and residents, including weekly surgical case reviews and the institutional combined neurology and neurosurgical Grand Rounds. In addition, SPIN students are given pagers and are paged to shadow neurology or neurosurgical residents at night as opportunities arise, seeing patients in the emergency room and throughout the hospital. Didactic and clinical sessions are organized to optimize the integration and reinforcement of topic material.
Research. Each student is paired with a research faculty mentor from the Departments of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Neurosurgery, Neurology (including neuro oncology), Radiology (neuroradiology), Pathology (neuropathology) and Radiation Oncology. Over the eight-week period of the program, students conduct an independent but closely mentored research project. Laboratory and mentor assignments are determined in a manner that leverages the students’ stated research interests and existing laboratory knowledge. Project types vary but a range of clinical, cell biological, molecular, and system level neuroscience research activities are available. At the end of the program, students present their research project and results in a public conference attended by their research mentors, course faculty, SPIN participants, family members and others.
SPIN is a unique program that combines mentored research activity with parallel organized clinical and didactic experiences to create and enhance an understanding and appreciation of the relationship between investigation and medicine in the neurosciences. Students emerge with a nuanced and multifaceted perspective of the brain informed by research, clinical experience, and small group didactics. Many SPIN alumni entered the program with hopes to pursue careers in biomedical research or medicine and afterwards have done so in doctoral programs in neuroscience and medical school. The program supports these choices by having career-development sessions to explain application processes for medical and graduate schools and teach interview skills. Alumni indicate that the program has been “life changing” and critical to determining their individual, post-graduate career path.
Applying to SPIN
SPIN is open to rising junior and senior undergraduate students interested in neuroscience, biomedical engineering, computer science, and medicine. Admission is based on academic performance, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Tuition does not include room and board. Proof of current immunizations are required before accepted students can begin the course.
Dates: June 6– July 29, 2022
Room and Board is an additional fee.
Application Deadline: February 1, 2022
Please contact Dr. Rushmore (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions.