The 6th annual SPARC Jr. conference took place on July 25 at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Rockefeller Research Laboratories Auditorium. SPARC, which stands for Achieving Successful and Productive Academic Research Careers, was launched in 2010 in direct response to the National Institute of Health’s call for a vigilant and expedient response to the underrepresentation of women and racial/ethnic minority investigators in academic research.
The purpose of SPARC Jr. is to support underrepresented minorities and women in middle school, high school, college, or post-baccalaureate programs as they learn about and pursue academic research. The program also targets high school teachers, and parents of students in these populations.
Dr. Carla Boutin-Foster, associate professor of medicine and associate dean for the SUNY Downstate Office of Diversity Education and Research, served as keynote speaker of the event. Dr. Boutin-Foster, who previously served as associate dean for diversity and inclusion at Weill Cornell Medical College, shared timely advice to the audience based upon her experiences as both a physician and scientist.
A panel session entitled, “Achieving Your Best: Presenting the Best Possible You” featured Rolake Alabi, MD/PhD student at Weill Cornell Medicine, Tanya Nauvel, PhD candidate in the Tri-Institutional Computational Biology and Medicine Program and Dr. Linnie Golightly, MD, an infectious disease specialist and associate professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. Moderated by Assistant Dean of Student Affairs at Weill Cornell Medicine, Elizabeth Wilson-Anstey, the panel discussed navigating the path for careers in translational science, medicine and health disparities research.
The SPARC initiative is supported by The Rockefeller University Center for Clinical and Translational Science, The Weill Cornell Medicine Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Office of Diversity Programs.