Sunday, July 21, 2024

Enrollment Opens for SMART Program Offering High School Students Unique Research Opportunities

by BIZ Magazine

Aspiring high school students with a passion for science, medicine, and research are invited to apply for the prestigious Bobbie Cates Hicks Science and Medicine Academic Research Training (SMART) program for the academic year 2024-2025. Enrollment for this year-long research opportunity is now open, with applications being accepted until 4 p.m. on February 29.

SMART, a collaborative initiative between BRF (formerly Biomedical Research Foundation), LSU Health Shreveport, and the Caddo, Bossier, and DeSoto parish school boards, offers eight to twelve academically advanced high school seniors the chance to engage in groundbreaking research alongside faculty investigators at LSU Health Shreveport.

Since its inception in 1997, SMART has nurtured the talents of 249 students, providing them with invaluable research experiences. A recent survey of SMART graduates revealed promising outcomes, with 100 percent of respondents currently attending or having attended college, and over 80 percent majoring in science or health-related disciplines. Furthermore, 81 percent expressed intentions to pursue postgraduate education.

In a significant milestone, the 2024 cohort marks the first all-female class of SMART participants, reflecting the program’s commitment to fostering diversity and inclusivity in the fields of science and medicine.

Dr. John F. George Jr., President and CEO of BRF, underscored the importance of preparing local talent for careers in healthcare and biomedical fields, emphasizing SMART’s role in nurturing the next generation of medical professionals and researchers.

LSU Health Shreveport Vice Chancellor for Research and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, Chris Kevil, echoed Dr. George’s sentiments, highlighting the invaluable experiences and insights that SMART provides students as they embark on their journeys toward careers in medicine and biomedical research.

Eligible students interested in applying to SMART can find detailed information about eligibility requirements and the application process on the program’s website at

Funding for the SMART program is made possible through the generous contributions of donors, including the late Bobbie Cates Hicks, the Bruce J. Heim Foundation, the Community Foundation of North Louisiana, and the Magale Foundation.

In addition to SMART, BRF and its donors are committed to supporting STEM education and workforce development through various programs, including the Biotechnology Magnet Academy (BTA), BioStart senior research laboratory internships, and Southwood High School’s Clinical Lab course and FIRST Robotics program.

With the SMART program continuing to empower young minds and cultivate future leaders in science and medicine, Louisiana’s commitment to fostering innovation and excellence in STEM education remains unwavering.

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