Scholarship program introduces college students to dementia research and clinical care


Scholars receive hands-on training,
attend educational seminars,
learn about bioscience careers,
and practice scientific writing.

The number of people diagnosed with dementia and related conditions is growing at a rapid pace, yet the number of clinicians and scientists trained to research and treat the disease is not keeping up with this growth. That’s where the Banner – ASU Neuroscience Scholars Program comes in.

Sponsored by Banner Sun Health Research Institute, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute and Arizona State University, the eight-week, paid training program is open to top-achieving college undergraduate and graduate science and social science students. Scholars work full-time on a research project under the mentorship of a Banner Research or ASU Biodesign scientist or clinician. In a lab or clinical setting, they explore the medical and scientific advances of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurodegenerative diseases.

“Researchers and clinicians from basic science, neuropsychology, imaging, healthy aging and dementia care all serve as mentors for the neuroscience scholars,” said Dr. Parichita Choudhury, M.D., a BSHRI dementia specialist and Program Lead. “If students are exposed early in their careers to the importance of research in aging and dementia, they may be more likely to explore these fields for their careers.”

Scholars receive hands-on training, attend educational seminars, learn about bioscience careers, and practice scientific writing. At the program’s end, scholars present their project outcomes at a concluding symposium.

“The exposure to different disciplines within neuroscience is so valuable to the scholars,” said Christine Belden, PsyD, a neuropsychologist at BSHRI who co-leads the program. “Students learn that research also occurs outside of a basic science lab.”

Past participants have gone on to earn top national student rankings, receive national awards and scholarships, attend first-rate graduate and medical schools, and gain acceptance into fellowship programs in dementia care and medical research.

“One of our goals is to increase the diversity of researchers in the dementia workforce,” said Dr. Choudhury. “We hope to be able to fund scholarships for underrepresented minorities and socially disadvantaged students in the future.”

One such scholarship is offered by WISH – Women Investing in Science and Health, an affinity group of the Banner Health Foundation. WISH funded four of the Neuroscience Scholars as part of its 2022 allocation process and in support their mission to engage women in the fields of science and research. WISH raises funds and awareness for Banner Health programs important to women and their families.

The Banner – ASU Neuroscience Scholars Program accepts between 10 to 15 students each summer and is highly competitive. Scholars must be full time college students and meet several other criteria.