STEMPREP Summer Program Prepares Students for Futures in Medicine

Senai Assefa and Brent Biscoe

Setting up experiments, collecting data and monitoring results are some of the tasks students performed as part of the STEMPREP Project. For seven weeks this summer, five trainees had the opportunity to conduct research with scientist and doctors at some of Philadelphia’s most prestigious universities. (STEM stands for Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics).

Brandon Hodge

The STEMPREP Project, sponsored by the Distance Learning Center, prepares “high achieving” underrepresented minority students for careers in medicine and biomedicine. The program begins in 7th grade and continues to invite trainees back through high school and college. Senai Assefa, Brent Biscoe, Brandon Hodge, Bryah Martin and Jebron Perkins were recruited from St. Croix and St. Thomas schools, and they are now high school juniors. These trainees used the skills learned in the previous years to conduct cutting edge research during summer 2018.

Senai Assefa now lives in Minnesota and attends the St. Paul Academy. He conducted his research on the effect of alcohol on the liver and its regenerative process at Thomas Jefferson University.

Brent Biscoe, left St. Thomas after Hurricane Maria to attend Trinity College Boarding School in Ontario, Canada. His research was conducted at Thomas Jefferson University. He experimented with intervertebral disc in mice to understand degenerative bone disease.

Brandon Hodge left St. Croix after Hurricane Irma and attends the University High School in Orlando, Fla. His research examined the effect certain cancer drugs had on myeloma cancer cells at the University of Pennsylvania.

Bryah Martin of All Saints School spent her summer examining cells undergoing mechanotransduction at the University of Pennsylvania.

Bryah Martin and Jebron Perkins

Jebron Perkins relocated from the St Croix Educational Complex to Eastview High School in Texas. His research studied the effect of NSAIDs on teeth at Thomas Jefferson University. These trainees participated in groundbreaking research that may lead to medical advancements in the future.

The STEMPREP Project’s application deadline for the summer 2019 program is Jan 31. Applicants must be 7th and 8th graders who love science, possess an A average and are interested in careers in science to be eligible. Applications can be found at Applicants must submit last three years of report cards, letter(s) of recommendation from middle school STEM teachers; they must also register and take the SSAT national exam (fee waivers can be obtained for the SSAT national exam.)

For additional information and school visits, contact: Charlene Abramson Joseph, senior recruiter at DLC STEMPREP Project; cell: 513-4883 or email:

To support Virgin Islands trainees, send donations to:
Moses L. Williams Ph.D., Executive Director
STEMPREP Project, Distance Learning Center Inc.
1324 Clearfield Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19132

Office: 267-238-2900
Fax: 267-238-2901
Cell: 215-416-7743