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  • 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?

About EDGE

UNC Educational Pathways to Increase Diversity in GEnomics (EDGE) is an innovative 2-year summer program for undergraduate students 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):

  • fundamentals of genetic science
  • careers in genomics
  • ethical, legal, and social issues in genomics
  • genomics in medicine
  • mentoring & professional development

Year 2 (8 weeks):

  • working in a research lab with mentors
  • professional development
  • science communication training

 

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. 

For the 2022-2023 cohort, dates were June 6-24, 2022 (virtual) and TBD for 2023 (in-person).

Dates for the 2023-2024 cohort will be announced soon.

EDGE students will receive compensation (for the summer 2022-2023 cohort: $1000 for virtual summer 2022 and $4800 for in-person summer 2023). Housing and meals will be provided when students are in-person at UNC. For the 2023-2024 cohort, both years will be in-person at UNC. There is no tuition charged or course credit offered for EDGE Genomics. 

 

EDGE Genomics is an innovative 2-year summer program for undergraduate students who are interested in careers in genomics. EDGE especially welcomes applications from students who are underrepresented in the field of genomics: individuals who belong to underrepresented racial and ethnic groups (Native Americans/Alaska natives, Hispanic Americans, Hawaiian natives/U.S. Pacific Islanders, and African Americans), individuals with disabilities, and/or individuals from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. Students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Students must be 18 years old or older as of June 6, 2022. EDGE is aimed at freshman and sophomore undergraduate students. 
  • 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. 

Mentor circles 

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 poster presentation based on the mentored research experience. 

Professional development 

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.

We have 30 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.

List of EDGE Genomics research mentors

Genomics in the research lab:

Genomics in the clinic: coming soon

Genomics in society:

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 2022 take place? 
EDGE 2022 will happen Monday June 6 through Friday June 24, 2022, from 9am-3pm on weekdays. EDGE 2022 will be hosted through Zoom (virtual) with a couple of in person social activities at beginning and/or end of the program. 

Can I participate in EDGE if I have a schedule conflict during some of the hours EDGE will take place in summer 2022?
If you have a major schedule conflict for summer 2022 (will miss >5 program hours), please contact the program coordinators before applying as it may be better for you to apply for summer 2023 and summer 2024. 

Can I apply to EDGE if I am a rising 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 rising sophomores & juniors. 

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 20 students for summer 2022. 

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 30 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.  

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 a $1000 stipend. In their second year of the program, EDGE students will receive a $4800 stipend. EDGE will provide housing and meals for second year students separate from that $4800 stipend. 

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? 
precisionmedicine@med.unc.edu  

Where do I go to apply for EDGE Genomics? 
https://applynow.unc.edu/register/EDGE2022 

 

Important Dates:

  • Applications are accepted starting: Tuesday January 18, 2022
  • Applications must be received by: Monday February 28, 2022, 11:59pm
  • Reference forms must be received by: Monday March 7, 2022, 11:59pm

 

Click here to apply to EDGE Genomics.

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:

  1. Written answers to these questions: 1. Why are you interested in this training program in genomics; 2. What do you hope to gain from participating in EDGE as it relates to your educational and career goals; and 3. Why are you passionate about science/STEM? (maximum 300 words for each question)
  2. Unofficial transcript (pdf format). This document should list all of the college courses you have taken and the grades received.
  3. 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 28, 2022. Incomplete or late applications will not be accepted.

Recommendations

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 and email it to your recommender(s). The recommender(s) will fill out the form(s) and email them to precisionmedicine@med.unc.edu. Recommendation forms must be received by 11:59pm March 7, 2022. Applications without recommendation forms will be ineligible for EDGE.

If you have any questions, email precisionmedicine@med.unc.edu.

The EDGE open house and Q&A session was held February 9, 2022.

Click here to watch the event recording.

Click here to download the slides for the open house event.

  • “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 

Training Opportunities

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

Case Studies – from the National Science Teaching Association

BioInteractive resources – from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute

CourseSource – an open-access journal of peer-reviewed teaching resources for undergraduate biology and physics

Clinical Genomics Careers Panel Series – a multi-part, virtual panel series where undergraduate students, interns, and other interested learners can hear more about various careers in genomics. Panels focused on genetic counselors, clinical laboratory careers, physician (MD) clinicians, research & development, and stepping stone (transitional) opportunities. Hosted by the Clinical Genome Resource.

Careers in Human Genetics flowchart and list of careers organized by education path: undergraduate degree, master’s degree, law degree (JD), medical degree (MD/DO), doctoral degree (PhD), or physician scientist (combined MD-PhD). Hosted by the American Society of Human Genetics.

Career Explorations in Genomic Medicine Research podcasts. These podcasts are hour-long conversations with professionals working in genomics-related fields: clinical care, basic science research, informatics, and ethical, legal, and social issues.

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.​

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.

2022 Timeline

  • mid-January 2022: application period opens
  • February 9, 2022, 12:00-12:45pm and 4:00-4:45pm: virtual open house and Q&A events; students, professors, and staff are welcome; see below for QR code and Zoom link on open house poster
  • February 28, 2022, 11:59pm: applications due
  • March 7, 2022, 11:59pm: reference forms due
  • March 25, 2022: acceptances announced
  • June 6-24, 2022: program dates. EDGE 2022 will be virtual and held by Zoom from 9am-3pm weekdays

Tentative 2022 Program calendar

 

 

 

Download EDGE recruitment poster.

 Download EDGE Virtual Open House poster.

QR code for EDGE Virtual Open House:

Wednesday February 9, 2022, 12:00-12:45pm and 4:00-4:45pm (identical sessions)

 

EDGE Leadership and Staff

UNC EDGE is funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute and the UNC Program for Precision Medicine in Health Care

For more information, contact precisionmedicine@med.unc.edu.