May 2011

Science in Peru: building research capacity in the biomedical sciences

Jill Goldstein, a graduate student in Romero’s lab, adds, “It was a great experience to work with the Peruvian student program. David brought a curiosity and enthusiasm with him that was contagious in the lab. He cultivated a number of scientific techniques during the program and organized his work into a sophisticated final presentation at the end of the program. This was a great experience for everyone in the lab.”

REPU’s impact

The program’s priority is to give students a strong foundation in scientific research and communication in order to prepare them for success in their future scientific training. In addition, REPU seeks to create a strong network of scientists who will work together and help each other at different stages of training.

Click here for information on an ASBMB initiative to unite scientists in the U.S. and Latin America.

REPU has served as a springboard for students to pursue additional training opportunities. Sofia Espinoza, who participated in REPU in 2009, was invited to attend the Pan American Studies Institute on Function and Regulation of the Cytoskeleton in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. REPU 2010 participant María Jesús Olarte presented her research at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s recent annual meeting in Washington, D.C. And, in the summer of 2011, REPU 2010 student Omar Julca will be the first Peruvian student to participate at the Vienna Biocenter Summer School in Austria.

REPU also has established a connection between extremely talented students from Peru and graduate programs in the U.S. In 2009, Kenyi Saito-Diaz joined the interdisciplinary graduate program at Vanderbilt University, and Sofia Espinoza will start in the biological and biomedical sciences doctorate program at Yale University in August 2011. These achievements increase the recognition for these programs in Latin America and serve as an example of how these institutions can work to benefit scientific development in Peru while providing a new source of bright and motivated future graduate students.

REPU participants also have had an impact on the greater Latin American community by collaborating with University of California, San Francisco, researcher Ronald Vale and his graduate student Sarah Goodwin and the American Society for Cell Biology to translate 27 iBioMagazine lectures from English to Spanish. These free online lectures are given by leading scientists from around the world, highlighting top-notch science and the human side of research. The lectures are powerful educational tools for biology classes all over Latin America.

REPU alumni starting in doctoral degree programs automatically are involved in the selection process and organizational decisions of REPU. In this way, the program secures a continuous flow of people and ideas and maintains a population of younger scientists who can relate to and mentor senior undergraduate students. A promising sign for the continuity and growth of the program is that several REPU students beginning graduate training are planning on starting REPU sites at their own universities.

“Being part of REPU has given me invaluable opportunities,” says Sofia Espinoza. “So now, as a grad student, I plan to pay that forward by mentoring and hosting new Peruvian students.”

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great article!



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