In its 45th year, seven interns from the Summer Research Internship Program at Marshfield Clinic Research Institute presented their research during the Research Symposium held Wednesday, August 7 in Marshfield Medical Center's Froehlke Auditorium.

The summer internship provides an experience tailored to each student's skill level and is related to ongoing research within the Research Institute. The program enables students to put their education into practice as they work side-by-side with scientists and clinician-researchers who are experts in their fields.

"Our program's reputation as a sought-after internship continues to grow. Employers have shared that our interns were hired based on the experience provided through the Summer Research Internship Program. Several organizations have reached out to us for consultations as they establish their own research internship programs after hearing from alums what a positive opportunity it was," shared Internship Program director, Huong McLean, Ph.D.

Since its inception in 1974, the program has mentored over 268 interns as part of the Research Institute's mission to provide career development opportunities for those interested in research. In this time, students from 55 different schools and 27 states have participated. Since 2011, intern research projects have resulted in 15 publications in various research journals.

"Mentors are essential because they spend significant time during the summer with our interns providing research education," said Amit Acharya, Ph.D., B.D.S., executive director of the Research Institute. "And I really want to thank all of the next generation scientists that worked with us this summer on different projects. The symposium really demonstrates the variety of work we conduct at MCRI."

By pairing students with mentors working on active studies, the students have the opportunity to conduct research with a potential for meaningful impact on patient care delivery across the Health System. Study results presented at this year's symposium focused on surgical outcomes, oral health, Bardet-Biedl syndrome, Lyme disease and genetics.

"I always felt like I was learning things and contributing to the Health System in a useful way. It felt like those around me were excited to have me here and were excited to connect me to the experiences I wanted to have as a part of my internship," wrote one intern in their SRIP program evaluation.

In addition to expanding their research portfolios and making professional connections, the interns made lasting connections with each other. A sense of camaraderie was apparent from the collection of photos shared during the symposium's break periods. Spending time together in their off-hours, the cohort experienced all of what Marshfield and Wisconsin has to offer by way of local events, day trips, and finding the best ice cream spots in the area.

"It's always remarkable to see each summer how what starts out as a group of strangers – many not even from the Wisconsin area – bonds quickly and results in long-term friendships," said Patti Baer, SRIP administrator.

Thanks to the generosity of many community partners, System employees, foundations, businesses and a major sponsorship by The Boldt Company, the internship program is supported entirely through philanthropy. The Research Institute is grateful these supporters understand the importance of preparing the next generation of researchers and continue to assist in making the program possible.

The application period for summer 2020 will begin this November. Information about the application process can be found on the SRIP webpage.