Teenage girl looking through microscope

Bridging the Gap Between Students and Scientists

Imagine spending the day learning from one of the top scientists in their field. That is what the PROMISE program at Sanford Research offers high school students each year through Biomedical Research Investigation (BRI) day. The program is designed to help close the experience and knowledge gap between high school students and Ph.D.-level scientists. Through this program, students learn about biomedical research and the questions that scientists ask to guide their research. The day ends with a hands-on experience led by the scientist with tools used in their lab. If you are a high school student looking for an amazing opportunity, look no further than Sanford Research's PROMISE program!



The 2022-2023 BRI day features the Lee Lab. The principal investigator, Lance Lee Ph.D., has worked for Sanford Research for twelve years. The focus of his lab is to investigate the mechanisms of motile cilia. Specifically, he researches a rare disease called Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia (PCD). This rare disease leads to chronic lung infections and affects sperm motility. During this year's BRI day, students get an opportunity to investigate the effects of PCD on sperm cells.

Angela Wachal, Harrisburg High School teacher, brought her class to the first BRI day of the year. Her students had a lot of fun learning about cilia and working closely with scientists.


"My students and I had the opportunity to learn from experts in their field. Dr. Lee and Casey McKenzie gave us a first-hand look at the world of research and the career opportunities available for those interested in science." Angela Wachal, Biology Teacher


BRI day is mutually beneficial for scientists at Sanford Research. One crucial skill needed for scientists is the ability to communicate their research with the public. BRI day gives researchers the ability to connect with curious teens and demonstrate the work done by their lab. 


"Seeing high school students get excited about research is a joy, especially watching their eyes light up and answering their questions about rare diseases and how and why we study primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) in the lab. Research is imperative to developing treatments and cures for devastating diseases but inspiring the next generation of scientists is one of the most important things we do." Lance Lee, Ph.D., Principle Investigator


During the day, Casey McKenzie stopped in to do an investigation with students. Casey is a research specialist in the Lee lab who loves to talk to visitors and students. 


"I love getting to do hands-on lessons with students. Getting them to have that moment of discovery when they see something in person is priceless. I'm constantly reminded how cool my job is by answering questions from the students. Hopefully, this experience will open someone's eyes to a future career they may not have considered before."           Casey McKenzie, Research Specialist 


Biomedical Research investigation day gives students a better understanding of what goes into scientific research and helps to spark an interest in pursuing a career in science. This opportunity is open to all students in grades 10-12 and there is no cost to attend. Registration is required.  


The goals of BRI day are to:

  1. Connect students with scientists 

  1. Dive deep into a topic 

  1. Provide a hands-on, immersive experience 

If you are interested in signing up for BRI day, please email the PROMISE team at sanfordoutreach@sanfordhealth.org.