CHOC & University Lab Partners Expand MIRE Program for High School Students

02/03/21 | 2 MIN READ

OC is a hotbed for medtech and biotech entrepreneurship and commercialization.

After the success of the 2020 Summer STEM program, the CHOC Research Institute and University Lab Partners (ULP) have expanded The Medical Innovation, Research and Entrepreneurship STEM Program for Orange County high school students. During the 8-week virtual program, student teams will work with industry leaders to solve real-world unmet pediatric clinical needs presented by CHOC Children's, devising a proof-of-concept and company which they pitch to industry leaders on the final day. A team of 20 industry mentors commit their time and expertise in supporting the next generation of STEM leaders. This Fall 2020 cohort consisted of over 100 Orange County high school students across 7 school districts including Anaheim and Capo Unified. Students earn 2.5 UC-transferable units for this work-based learning experience through the partnership with North Orange County Regional Occupational Program and College and Career Advantage in South Orange County. The program will expand in 2021 to include a total of 12 school districts across Orange County.

This STEM program aligns with the mission of CHOC Children's - to nurture, advance and protect the health and well-being of children. "Pediatric health too often takes a back seat to adult health research," says Dr. Terrence Sanger, MD PhD, Vice President, Chief Scientific Officer, CHOC Children's. "These high school students will see examples of how interdisciplinary teams work together to identify and address clinical needs by creating the knowledge, devices, and procedures that will ensure children lead the healthiest possible lives. Through their 'fresh eyes,' these young people - who are keen to focus on children's needs - will be able to allow more senior researchers and mentors to see their work through a new lens to find problems and solutions that only a child could imagine," says Dr. Sanger.

"This is yet another way that the CHOC Children's Research Institute and University Lab Partners (ULP) are partnering to make Orange County the place with the healthiest children anywhere. We are committed to improving the health, longevity and overall well-being of children, this includes their education," says Kim Cripe, President and CEO of CHOC Children's. This innovative STEM Program also aligns with the vision for the CEO Leadership Alliance of Orange County, an organization that nurtures top OC talent, jobs, and quality of life for Orange County.

Orange County is a hotbed for medtech and biotech entrepreneurship and commercialization. "The CHOC Research Institute is excited to support this program and to motivate the next generation of leaders in translational science, medical devices and basic science research," adds Brent Dethlefs, Executive Director of the CHOC Research Institute.

Through pediatric-focused case studies, customized lesson plans, team project work and mentorship, students explore pediatric clinical needs and design solutions to issues that directly impact pediatric patients. This unique educational experience brings bioengineering design and medicine together to engage high school students. Not every unmet clinical need is a business-viable unmet clinical need. However, there is tremendous opportunity across fields of healthcare for new devices, diagnostics, AI, data science and therapeutics. "This innovative program is fueled by people with skills in clinical and business development, data science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, hospital management, technology development, strategy insights, and product ideation backgrounds - the larger Orange County biotech and medtech community," says Karin Koch, Ecosystem Director of University Lab Partners. "The CHOC and ULP partnership is a powerful combination; a collaborative approach to generate the energy needed to transform the healthcare industry and to develop new leading technology products and platforms," says Nadine Afari, Manager of Research Programs of CHOC's Research Institute.

View the official release here.

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