Creating a pipeline of talent for informatics: STEM initiative for high school students in computer science, biology, and biomedical informatics
Dutta-Moscato J, Gopalakrishnan V, Lotze MT, Becich MJ. Creating a pipeline of talent for informatics: STEM initiative for high school students in computer science, biology, and biomedical informatics. J Pathol Inform. 2014 Mar 28;5(1):12. doi: 10.4103/2153-3539.129448. eCollection 2014. PMID: 24860688. PMCID: PMC4030307.
This editorial provides insights into how informatics can attract highly trained students by involving them in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) training at the high school level and continuing to provide mentorship and research opportunities through the formative years of their education. Our central premise is that the trajectory necessary to be expert in the emergent fields in front of them requires acceleration at an early time point. Both pathology (and biomedical) informatics are new disciplines which would benefit from involvement by students at an early stage of their education. In 2009, Michael T Lotze MD, Kirsten Livesey (then a medical student, now a medical resident at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC)), Richard Hersheberger, PhD (Currently, Dean at Roswell Park), and Megan Seippel, MS (the administrator) launched the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) Summer Academy to bring high school students for an 8 week summer academy focused on Cancer Biology. Initially, pathology and biomedical informatics were involved only in the classroom component of the UPCI Summer Academy. In 2011, due to popular interest, an informatics track called Computer Science, Biology and Biomedical Informatics (CoSBBI) was launched. CoSBBI currently acts as a feeder program for the undergraduate degree program in bioinformatics at the University of Pittsburgh, which is a joint degree offered by the Departments of Biology and Computer Science. We believe training in bioinformatics is the best foundation for students interested in future careers in pathology informatics or biomedical informatics. We describe our approach to the recruitment, training and research mentoring of high school students to create a pipeline of exceptionally well-trained applicants for both the disciplines of pathology informatics and biomedical informatics. We emphasize here how mentoring of high school students in pathology informatics and biomedical informatics will be critical to assuring their success as leaders in the era of big data and personalized medicine.