News at Medicine - September 2020 - Another successful Janeway Pediatric Research Unit’s Summer Research Program

Another successful Janeway Pediatric Research Unit’s Summer Research Program
September 8, 2020
By Dr. Roger Chafe, assistant professor, Discipline of Pediatrics
Since 2017, the Janeway Pediatric Research Unit has offered a summer research program for students with different levels of health research experience. These undergraduate and graduate students are often involved in the MUCEP, SURA, CSJ and USSIP programs offered by Memorial. Other participants are research assistants working at the JPRU on projects in the area of pediatrics.
The program runs over 12 weeks. There are weekly group sessions with the students and pediatric faculty. During these sessions, students update the rest of the JPRU on their work and the progress they have been making. It is also an opportunity to discuss with faculty issues they may be having with any part of the research process. These sessions allow students to learn about other ongoing projects and to get advice from their supervisors, other faculty and their fellow students. It also helps build a team-based environment crucial to high quality research.
The second part of the program is a weekly lecture series, which is mostly focused on introducing research topics to the students. Most sessions are delivered by pediatric faculty, but there are also opportunities for students to present their own work. This year there were lectures on developing a research question, study design, biostatistics, research ethics, doing research in a pediatric emergency department, quality improvement, qualitative research, health services research, grant writing, writing a research paper, and study recruitment. Each session includes time for discussion to explore the topic in more depth. The last three weeks of this year’s summer series were for lectures by students on the work they completed over the summer. To help solidify their knowledge of pediatric research, students also attend weekly pediatric grand rounds.
With the restrictions around Covid-19, this summer has certainly been a unique one for graduate students and research assistants across the university. This year all the research sessions were delivered by Zoom. The regular virtual meetings allowed the group to maintain a connection and a great learning environment throughout the summer, despite the pandemic-related restrictions.
This year's lecture series was organized by Dr. Leigh Anne Newhook, director of the JPRU, and Dr. Rana Aslanova, the JPRU’s research manager. “Students are an important part of much of the research that we do here at the JPRU,” Dr. Newhook said. “We hope that through our summer lectures series students are getting a more rounded research experience than just working by themselves on a single project.”
The students seem to agree. At the end of the summer sessions, the JPRU conducts anonymous evaluations. The feedback was very positive, with students saying that they ‘enjoyed the team meetings.’ Other students said it was ‘really great to hear about the projects that other students were working on’ and that ‘these are research skills that undergraduate students are not usually exposed to until the final year of their degree, so it [the summer research program] is a great opportunity for students.’ Students also enjoyed regularly attending pediatric grand rounds.
The Janeway Pediatric Research Unit’s Summer Research Program will start again in May 2021.