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Center for Health Behaviors High School Summer Research Program to Enhance Diversity

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Center for Health Behaviors Research

Summer Research Program to Enhance Diversity

The Center for Health Behaviors Research High School Summer Research Program to Enhance Diversity is an 8-week summer program that gives high school students the opportunity to participate in health behaviors research at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC in Roanoke, Virginia. The program encompasses a part- to full-time schedule and supports students with a competitive stipend of $4,800.

The program objectives are:

  • To increase exposure to scientific research
  • To provide educational and career mentorship
  • To foster an imagination for a career in science

Areas of research for students will include:

  • Neurobiological and decision-making sciences
  • Molecular and clinical metabolic sciences
  • Implementation, dissemination, and health policy sciences

In addition to mentored research projects, students will have the opportunity to participate in:

  • Weekly research seminars by Virginia Tech faculty
  • Courses on preparing for a future career in science
  • Mentoring on science communication and presentation skills
  • Two annual summer research symposiums
  • Social and cultural activities with fellow summer research students
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To be considered for the program, applicants will meet the following requirements:

  • Must be a rising high school junior or senior in the Roanoke Valley
  • Must possess a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 or have demonstrated improvement in academic performance.
  • Must be able to devote yourself to 20-40 hours of research for the duration of the 8-week program

Program leadership is committed to providing research and educational opportunities to students who are underrepresented in biomedical research. In addition to the criteria above, applicants should identify with one or more of the following eligibility criteria:

  • High school students whose personal or community background may limit their opportunity to participate in postsecondary education and to engage in high-quality research experiences while in school.
  • Aspiring college students who will be the first in their family to complete a bachelor’s degree.
  • Groups underrepresented in biomedical research (including Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, person with a disability).
  • Identify with one or more groups underrepresented in science.

The online application for the CHBR Summer Research Program and all related materials are due by April 15, 2024.

A completed application package includes the following:

  • General information about the applicant
  • Two short essays in response to the following:
    • Why are you interested in this experience that involves health behaviors research and a scientific mentor?
    • What do you hope to gain from participating in the this summer program and how might it contribute to your career?
  • A recommendation letter or letter of support from a teacher, mentor, or employer
  • An up-to-date unofficial transcript and GPA

During the 8-week program, students will have the opportunity to participate in a series of educational, research, and social activities.


Students may choose to participate in courses in translational neurobiology and in professional development. Students will receive science writing and communication training and will learn how to communicate science to the public. Courses are designed to prepare high schoolers and undergraduates for research careers in behavioral and neuroscience research and will be instructed by Virginia Tech faculty who work at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute.


All students will perform 8 weeks of full-time, hypothesis-driven, mentored research in the research institute’s CHBR labs. At the end of the program, students will present their results at two Annual Summer Research Symposiums; one at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg and one at Fralin Biomedical Research Institute in Roanoke. In addition to independent research, all students can attend a weekly Translational Neurobiology Research Seminar Series at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute. This seminar series includes presentations about Virginia Tech’s state-of-the-art neurobiology research.

Social Activities

Students are invited to participate in several social activities throughout the 8-week period. These activities include pizza parties and ice cream socials, opportunities to meet fellow summer research students, and peer mentoring from Virginia Tech graduate students. Outdoor excursions that take advantage of Roanoke’s world-class outdoor amenities, trails, and parks, are also offered to students.

About the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC

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The Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC is one of Virginia Tech’s only research institutes devoted solely to biomedical research. It opened on Sept. 1, 2010, welcoming new faculty, postdoctoral fellows, students, and staff from across the United States and throughout the world. It grew rapidly to 26 research teams with more than 300 faculty, staff, and students by 2017 and almost $100 million in extramural research grant funding, primarily from the National Institutes of Health. As of 2022, there are 36 research labs at the Institute, with more growth ahead.

Based in Roanoke, Virginia, the institute was designed to accommodate interdisciplinary research to address contemporary challenges in health and disease through combinations of biological, behavioral, computational, and engineering approaches.

Key research focus areas include addiction and substance abuse, behavioral health, cardiovascular science, cancer, including structural oncology, cognitive and computational neuroscience, decision-making, developmental and translational neurobiology, human development, neurorehabilitation, immunology, and regenerative/restorative medicine.

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