- Are you interested in genomics?
- Are you an undergraduate rising sophomore, undergraduate rising junior, or a community college student?
- Do you belong to a group that is underrepresented in science or do you self-identify as coming from a disadvantaged background?
UNC Educational Pathways to Increase Diversity in GEnomics (EDGE) is an innovative 2-year summer program that provides training in research skills, career education, and mentoring to undergraduate students from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds who are interested in careers in genomics. EDGE is aimed at freshman and sophomore undergraduate students.
|EDGE has a unique 2-year program structure.
Year 1 (3 weeks):
Year 2 (8 weeks):
The Year 2 research experience will place students in cutting-edge research labs at UNC-Chapel Hill. Students will work on an independent research project, attend weekly lab meetings and journal clubs, and present their research at the end of the program. EDGE students, faculty, and staff will build a vibrant community of peers and mentors that will guide students as they embark on their careers.
Program dates for summer 2022 were June 6-24, 2022 (virtual).
Program dates for summer 2023 are:
July 8-29, 2023 for year 1 students and June 3 – July 29, 2023 for year 2 students. The summer 2023 program will be in-person.
EDGE students will receive compensation ($1800 for year 1 students and $4800 for year 2 students). Housing and meals will be provided when students are in-person at UNC. There is no tuition charged or course credit offered for EDGE Genomics.
There will be a virtual EDGE Genomics open house and Q&A session on Tuesday January 17, 2023. Identical sessions will be held from 12:00-12:45pm and 4:00-4:45pm. Students, instructors, and advisors are all welcome.
- Applications are accepted starting: Friday December 9, 2022
- Applications must be received by: Monday February 27, 2023, 11:59pm
- Reference forms must be received by: Monday March 6, 2023, 11:59pm
- Acceptances announced: April 2023
EDGE applications will be accepted only through this online process. The application must be completed in one sitting, and the following must be ready to complete during the application process:
- Written answers to these questions: 1. Why are you passionate about science/STEM and what are your educational/training and career goals? 2. How will participating in EDGE Genomics help you achieve your goals? As part of your answer, include a discussion on what are the barriers or extenuating circumstances (if any) preventing you from achieving your goals. (maximum 600 words for each question)
- Unofficial transcript (pdf format). This document should list all of the college courses you have taken and the grades received.
- Copy of your resumé.
- Name(s) and email address(es) of the individual(s) who will fill out a recommendation form for you.
Your completed application must be received by 11:59pm February 27, 2023. Incomplete or late applications will not be accepted.
The EDGE Genomics application requires at least one recommendation form to be filled out by one of your AP or college-level science/STEM course instructors. You may have one additional optional recommendation from a non-relative who knows you well. Download the recommendation form here or from the applynow.unc.edu site linked above and email it to your recommender(s). The recommender(s) will fill out the form(s) and email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Recommendation forms must be received by 11:59pm March 6, 2023. Applications without recommendation forms will be ineligible for EDGE.
If you have any questions, email email@example.com.
- Overview: EDGE focuses on three areas of emphasis. These 3 areas of emphasis are threaded through the program elements described below.
Genomics in the research lab Genomics in the clinic Genomics in society
Careers in genomics
Students will learn about training paths and job descriptions for various careers in academia, medicine, industry, government, and nonprofits. Students will meet with genetic counselors, clinical geneticists, research scientists, bioethicists, lawyers who specialize in genomic issues, bioinformaticists, genomic analysts, and other professionals working in careers that span the fields of genetics and genomics.
Mentors provide guidance and advice to students. EDGE students will be matched with peer and career mentors. Mentoring circles consisting of EDGE students, graduate student mentors, and faculty mentors will meet weekly.
Mentored research experience
Year 2 EDGE students will work on an independent research project in the lab of their research mentor. They will attend weekly lab meetings and present their results at an end-of-program mini-symposium.
Reading scientific papers
EDGE students will participate in weekly journal club meetings where students will dissect peer-reviewed journal articles. Students will see step-by-step how science is done and results shared with others. Participating in journal club discussions will develop critical reading skills and gain exposure to experimental techniques across the field of genomics.
Observe weekly clinical molecular sign-out meetings
Diagnosis for a patient’s genetic condition involves laboratory testing, interpretation, and reporting. All of these steps are covered in one place at UNC weekly clinical molecular sign-out meetings. The molecular sign-out meeting is attended by clinical geneticists, genetic counselors, laboratory technicians, bioinformatics analysts, and molecular pathologists. These professionals discuss the diagnosis and treatment of patients diagnosed with genetic conditions.
Small group work
Students will work in small groups to analyze genomics case studies and solve genomics mysteries.
Ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) in genomics
The ethical, legal, and social implications of genomic science affect individuals, families, and communities. Experts in ELSI fields will lead case study-based discussions on a wide variety of topics:
Biospecimen/data use (e.g. Henrietta Lacks story); Clinical ethics and informed consent; Health disparities & inclusion; Gene editing; Law and emerging technologies; Advocacy; Public health policy; and Genetic testing
Science communication training
Communicating science ideas and findings to others (both scientists and lay audiences) is critical to a successful career in science. EDGE students will receive training in written, visual, and oral communication. Year 2 will culminate in a research presentation based on the mentored research experience.
The UNC Summer Undergraduate Pipeline (SUP) is organized by the UNC Graduate School’s Diversity and Student Success program. SUP assists students with the transition into graduate school by providing professional development seminars on topics such as succeeding in graduate school, networking, and writing personal statements.
Do I have to be a UNC Chapel Hill student to apply for EDGE?
You do not have to be a UNC Chapel Hill student, but you do need to be at least 18 years old and a US citizen or permanent resident.
Do I have to commit to attending both years of EDGE?
Yes, you need to commit to 2 years to gain the full benefit of the program.
When will EDGE 2023 take place?
EDGE Genomics will happen in June and July 2023. EDGE Genomics for first year students will take place July 8 through July 29, 2023. EDGE Genomics for second year students will take place June 3 through July 29, 2023.
Can I participate in EDGE if I have a schedule conflict during some of the hours EDGE will take place?
If you have a major schedule conflict, please contact the program coordinators before applying, as it may be better for you to apply for the summer 2024 – summer 2025 cohort.
Can I apply to EDGE if I am a junior?
Yes. You can apply to EDGE at any stage of your undergraduate education, however, preference for slots will be given to students who are freshmen and sophomores.
Is there a minimum GPA requirement?
There is no minimum GPA requirement.
Do I need to submit a college transcript with my application?
You need to submit a college transcript, though an unofficial transcript is fine.
Do I need to have taken a genetics course before applying to EDGE?
No, though you do need to have taken an Introductory Biology course, either a college course or AP Biology.
How many students will be accepted?
We will accept 15 students for the summer 2023 – summer 2024 cohort.
What types of research opportunities will be available in year 2?
See the Year 2 Research Projects section above.
Can I choose the type of lab I would like to work in during year 2 (computational, wet lab, social medicine, etc.)?
We have many research mentors who are interested in hosting EDGE students in their labs. In the spring, we will match student interests with faculty who have space in their lab for the following summer.
Is the stipend separate from the meals and housing provided in year 2?
Yes. In their first year of the program, EDGE students will receive an $1800 stipend. In their second year of the program, EDGE students will receive a $4800 stipend. For both years, EDGE will provide housing and meals separate from the stipends.
If I live close to Chapel Hill, can I plan to go home on weekends during year 2?
Yes, if you live close to Chapel Hill you could choose to commute daily or go home on weekends. EDGE will have optional social events on weekends that you might want to participate in.
Will participating in EDGE help my future application to UNC Chapel Hill?
Any research and professional development training (including EDGE) will contribute to a stronger application to college or professional/graduate school.
Who can I email with additional questions?
Where do I go to apply for EDGE Genomics?
See also Applying to EDGE section above.
We have many research mentors who are interested in hosting EDGE students in their labs. In spring 2023, we will match student interests with faculty who have space in their lab for summer 2023. Research projects will be drawn from the 3 Areas of Emphasis in EDGE: Genomics in the research lab, Genomics in the clinic, and Genomics in society. Examples of research projects from each area are listed below.
Genomics in the research lab:
- Example 1: Research to understand the contribution of epigenetics to inheritance using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.
- Participating scientist: Dr. Shawn Ahmed, Professor, Genetics and Biology
- Example 2: Research to identify genes and understand the genetic and biological mechanisms that increase risk for substance abuse disorders using animal models
- Participating scientist: Dr. Lisa Tarantino, Professor, Genetics
- Example 3: Epigenetic regulation of T-cell specification and function in development and disease
- Participating scientist: Dr. Ageliki Tsagaratou, Assistant Professor, Genetics
- Example 4: Application of high-throughput sequencing to understand how chromatin changes contribute to liver disease and liver cancer
- Participating scientist: Dr. Jesse Raab, Assistant Professor, Genetics
- Example 5: Research to study the function of chromatin enzymes in neural crest stem cell enhancer regulation
- Participating scientist: Dr. Karl Shpargel, Associate Professor, Genetics
Genomics in the clinic: coming soon
Genomics in society:
- Example 1: Research to understand population views and concerns about human gene editing for treatment of disease – specifically views from underrepresented/disadvantaged populations
- Participating scientist: Dr. Eric Juengst, Professor, Social Medicine and Genetics
- Example 2: Research to understand the perspective, understanding, and knowledge of genome and exome sequencing for pregnant women
- Participating scientist: Dr. Neeta Vora, Associate Professor, Maternal-Fetal Medicine and Genetics
- Example 3: Research to understand the ethical issues and differences in cultural opinions about genomic screening/testing healthy people for diseases that may or may not have immediate treatment (e.g., BRCA testing, Lynch Syndrome, and Familial Hypercholesterolemia), or prenatal testing for Down syndrome
- Participating scientists: Dr. Gail Henderson, Professor, Social Medicine, Ms. Kriste Kuczynski, and Dr. Marcia Van Riper, Professor, School of Nursing
- Example 4: Research to understand the challenges in ensuring ethical clinical practices in precision medicine & genomics screening (e.g., paternity disclosures when children are tested)
- Participating scientists: Ms. Arlene Davis, Professor, Social Medicine and Dr. Jean Cadigan, Associate Professor, Social Medicine
- Example 5: Research to understand the expectations of biobank participants regarding how their donated specimens and data will be used
- “This is a once in a lifetime learning experience.” – Jalil
- “The experience and knowledge I have received from this program have been invaluable, and it has really opened my eyes to the possibilities for me in genetics. I think that having programs like these are so valuable and important to continue to provide to everyone, especially marginalized groups.” – Jasmine
- “This experience was an opportunity for me to be exposed to different opportunities within medicine. Specifically research, diversity and inclusion, and different sections in ethics. It has introduced me to different pathways to be successful.” – Nykea
- “I really enjoyed hearing about the different career paths that all of these accomplished scientists took. It reassured me that I can take whatever STEM path I want.” – Hannah
- “I would most definitely recommend this course to anyone interested in science who is seeking to learn more about health science and genomics. This class definitely broadened my horizon for my future, as through this class I was exposed to various fields and careers in health science and genomics that I was not aware of.” – Kara
- “This program has allowed me to see how interdisciplinary science can be! This was very important to me because, before, I had a linear understanding of how science could be implemented.” – Bria
UNC Center for Faculty Excellence TEAM ADVANCE training. Organized by the UNC Center for Faculty Excellence, TEAM (Targeting Equity in Access to Mentoring) ADVANCE promotes accessible, equitable, and effective mentoring across the University, with an emphasis on supporting women of color and white women in STEM fields.
Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER). The mission of CIMER is to improve the research mentoring relationships for mentees and mentors at all career stages through the development, implementation, and study of evidence-based and culturally-responsive interventions. CIMER offers Entering Mentoring training for research mentors and Entering Research training for students.
Resources for Interactive Teaching
Google Jamboard – digital interactive whiteboard
Poll Everywhere – UNC affiliated polling platform
Open Stax Biology – open access textbook, could be useful for before-class background reading
CourseSource – an open-access journal of peer-reviewed teaching resources for undergraduate biology and physics
Some institutions offer an undergraduate major in genetics or genome studies, but these are not as common as majors in biology. Many undergraduate minors are relevant to a career in genetics and genomics. The following list includes many relevant minors. Those with web links are minors offered at UNC Chapel Hill. Most of the fields listed here have options for graduate study.
- Biology or Molecular Biology
- Statistics & Analytics, Biostatistics, or Mathematics
- Computer Science, Data Science, Bioinformatics, or Information Systems
- Language (such as Spanish)
- Communication studies
- Health & Society
- Medical Anthropology
- Medicine, Literature, and Culture
- Social and Economic Justice
- Public Policy
In addition, the Department of Allied Health Sciences at UNC Chapel Hill offers 3 degrees in Clinical Laboratory Science (CLS): a bachelor of science degree and 2 master’s degrees. After completion of their degree, CLS students are prepared to perform and interpret the wide variety of tests used in health care and other settings, ensuring the validity of results, and explaining the results to other health care professionals.
There are many other summer undergraduate research programs focusing on genomics. EDGE Genomics students should be competitive applicants for any of these programs.
- December 9, 2022: application period opens
- January 17, 2023, 12:00-12:45pm and 4:00-4:45pm: virtual open house and Q&A events; students, professors, and staff are welcome
- February 27, 2023, 11:59pm: applications due
- March 6, 2023, 11:59pm: reference forms due
- April 2023: acceptances announced
- July 8 – 29, 2023: program dates for year 1 students
- June 3 – July 29, 2023: program dates for year 2 students
2022 program calendar for year 1 students
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.