With the launch of SENS Research Foundation's new website, the SENS Foundation Academic Initiative is now SRF Education. We hope that this new name will further clarify our mission and role within the larger foundation. SRF Education's purpose continues to be centered on students and laypeople who are interested in learning more about SENS, and in the coming year, we will operate many of the same programs that we have in the past: our summer internship program, our student grants program, our literature review prgram, and our mentorship program.
The SENS Foundation Academic Initiative has not exhausted the funding that it has allocated towards grants for the year 2012. If you are a university student and are interested in applying for one of our materials grants to fund your own small SENS-related research project, there's still time to apply using our online application.
A literature review written by members of SRF Education has been published in Rejuvenation Research, and is now posted on PubMed. The paper, "The role of DNA methylation in aging, rejuvenation, and age-related disease," was written by members Adiv Johnson, Kemal Akman, Stuart Calimport, and Daniel Wuttke, with guidance and contributions from Drs. Alexandra Stolzing and Joao Pedro de Magalhaes.
The Academic Initiative's single largest project is the open online course that we are developing. We have determined the format that our videos in this course will take: they will display the image of a slide on-screen when that slide is most relevant. This way, every viewer will be able to see the right slides at the right time, instead of having to figure out precisely which slide the lecturer is discussing on their own.
In early March, the microglia project started when the Academic Inititiative awarded me a small grant to begin setting up functional assays for microglia. I've attached that grant and listed the background information section, without citations, below.
In July two of the summer interns, Connie Wang and Jennie Sims, joined the microglia project. Later that month they submitted a grant that would go toward continuing to develop the microglia project. Below you can find the background section of their grant as well as a full copy as an attachment.
The final lectures for the Academic Initiative's open online course were filmed yesterday, on-site at the SENS Foundation Research Center in Mountain View, CA. Our Chief Science Officer, Aubrey de Grey, gave a lecture on MitoSENS, as well as an introductory lecture and a brief concluding piece. A very considerable amount of editing work remains to be done, but once that work is complete and the videos are prepared, we will post them on the Academic Initiative's website. We will also provide course materials that include tests and quizzes.
The Academic Initiative's interns presented posters detailing their summer projects yesterday at the SENS Foundation Research Center. Of the four Buck interns, three have done work involving senescent cells and the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP), while the fourth has been making comprehensive improvements to his lab's mouse database. Meanwhile, two of the three Research Center interns have worked on the lab's alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) project and on an additional project comparing young and old microglia.
The Academic Initiative will be done filming the off-site lectures for its online coursework within a month. After that, the Initiative will shoot content at the SENSF Research Center, edit footage, prepare course materials, and prepare our website to accommodate the coursework. In all, we still anticipate that we'll be releasing the coursework by the end of 2012.
The Academic Initiative is likely to see another increased budget in 2013. We plan to offer at least as many scholarships and grants as we're offering this year, while we are nearly certain to expand our summer internship program, bringing in more interns overall and sending them to a greater number of labs. This year, some interns have been placed at the SENS Foundation Research Center, while others have gone to the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. We hope to place more interns at each location next year, and to add new locations.
The SENS Foundation's researchers have reached their decisions, and all of the applicants to the SENS Foundation Academic Initiative's 2012 summer internship program have been informed of their status. We're excited to be able to bring some interns to the SENSF-RC this summer, but regret that we could not accept nearly all of the qualified applicants who expressed interest in our program. This will be the internship program's first year, but we're optimistic that the program will be repeated in subsequent years.
Over the last few months, the SENS Foundation Academic Initiative has witnessed a rapid increase in its membership numbers, and in the interest it receives from students across the United States and the world. In order to properly utilize and expand upon this interest, the Initiative will need new volunteers, new ideas, and new projects.