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Inspiring the Best Minds through Mentorship

Michael Super, a Lead Senior Staff Scientist at the Wyss Institute, has been recognized by the Harvard Catalyst as a featured mentor and researcher in their Summer Clinical & Translational Research Program. Through this program, mentors inspire college students to consider careers in science.

Mike Super, Lead Senior Staff Scientist at the Wyss Institute, and 2017 SCTRP intern, Sophie Nguyen. Credit: Harvard Catalyst

The mission of the Harvard Catalyst Program for Faculty Development & Diversity Inclusion is to foster the growth of a diverse clinical and translational science community through mentorship. College students and medical students are mentored in the laboratories of Harvard faculty through two signature programs – the Summer Clinical and Translational Research Program (SCTRP) and the Visiting Research Internship Program (VRIP).

Mentees typically work side by side with scientists and clinicians. However, ensuring success takes more than just placing students in the laboratory. “You have to include them, empower them, ask them what they think about a problem, and help guide them,” says Super, who has been a mentor the past six summers for SCTRP, the program for college students. Super is a firm believer in involving students in early-stage research and including their names on published research papers if they have participated in a discovery or invention.

Super’s research at the Wyss exemplifies the team approach, which is critical for mentees to learn about firsthand. His current team, which includes experts in chemistry, protein engineering, microbiology, and animal models,  has developed a blood-cleansing device that can rapidly pull pathogens out of the bloodstream and treat sepsis, a leading cause of death in critically ill patients. “To achieve our goal, we need to bring together the brightest, motivated minds,” he points out. The students who have joined in this project may one day join the ranks of other bright minds who end up leading laboratories, advancing discoveries, and mentoring their own students.

This article contains excerpts from a Harvard Catalyst spotlight story; read the full story here.

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