Honors College Partners with MUSC Department of Surgery to Launch Summer Internship Program

P.A.S.S. interns Isabel Muehleman, Kirsten Snyder, and Caitlin Watts

The Honors College is teaming up with the MUSC College of Medicine’s Department of Surgery to create a formative new summer internship opportunity for honors students considering careers in surgery and/or academic medicine.

The PASS (Pipeline for Aspiring Surgical Scientists) summer internship program will provide 3 honors interns with an immersive 10-week experience focused on laboratory and clinical research, all under the mentorship of Department of Surgery faculty.

As part of the inaugural cohort, Honors College sophomores Isabel Muehleman, Kirsten Snyder, and Caitlin Watts will spend their summer working alongside faculty mentors in their respective research labs. Some of the research opportunities include surgical oncology, regenerative medicine, and transplant immunology.

“I could not be more excited about getting to build my training and experience at MUSC, where so many life-changing medical research projects are being undertaken each year,” Watts says.

The PASS program was the brainchild of Dr. David B. Adams, Distinguished University Professor of Surgery at MUSC and the current vice chair of the College of Charleston Advisory Board. Dr. Adams set in motion the collaboration between the Honors College and MUSC Department of Surgery faculty, including Dr. Satish Nadig and Dr. Michael Yost, both of whom will serve as mentors for the program.

“Translational scientists make up the backbone of innovation in the surgical specialties,” Dr. Nadig says. “The Department of Surgery at MUSC is pleased and honored to partner with the College of Charleston’s Honors College to give our next generation leaders an opportunity to learn and make an impact in the field of surgical science.”

The program is not only an ideal opportunity for aspiring surgeons, but also for students considering a career as a medical scientist.

“For those thinking about pursuing an MD/PhD or MD/MS graduate program, this is a great chance to gain practical experience,” says Honors College Dean Beth Meyer-Bernstein. She says opportunities like this for undergraduate students are extremely rare.

“This really has the potential to serve as a life-altering springboard for their future.”

As part of the program, all three students will each receive a substantial grant to help support their work at MUSC. The funding is provided through the newly enhanced Honors Summer Enrichment Program which, in addition to funding, provides honors students with supplemental workshops and peer-to-peer collaboration to enhance summer experiences like internships and faculty-led research. Following the internship, the three PASS students will also present on their work at the the 2021 MUSC Research Day in November.

Both the Honors College and Department of Surgery faculty hope to continue the program in subsequent summers.

“We would love for this to be an annual opportunity,” says Meyer-Bernstein. “A true pipeline that future honors students can benefit from.”


Article by Nick Plasmati. Photos provided.

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