Plant Pathways Elucidation Project (P2EP) Summer Program

Genetic mapping and sequencing of fiber in oats.  Identifying biomarkers in oats and broccoli with anti-inflammation and anti-cancer characteristics. Measuring the total bioactive content and activity in berries.

These seem like they would be projects that scientists across the NC Research Campus (NCRC) would be leading. They are actually examples of the research the Plant Pathways Elucidation Project (P2EP) graduate mentors and summer interns are conducting. P2EP is a collaborative research and scientific training program at the NCRC that studies bioactive compounds in fruits and vegetable, the pathways that these compounds participate in and how they benefit human health. 

P2EP launched in 2013 as a training opportunity for young scientists. The program is sponsored by the UNC Charlotte Bioinformatics Services Division, the NC State Plants for Human Health Institute, the University of North Carolina General Administration, Dole Nutrition Institute, General Mills and the David H. Murdock Research Institute (DHMRI), all of which are NCRC partners.

The current class of interns includes 27 students from eight North Carolina schools ranging from high school to the graduate level. Interns are divided into teams and mentored by graduate students from NC State University and UNC Charlotte. 

Many P2EP alumni currently attend medical or pharmacy school or have entered doctorate programs in nutrition and health. Three of the 2016 P2EP interns are returning to the program, one for the fourth time. Throughout the summer, the interns learn laboratory procedures, network with NCRC scientists and present their research at the end of the summer at a research symposium. The graduate students work year-round on the research as the focus of their doctoral programs.

"My experience with P2EP has really opened up my mind to different possibilities for my future − PhD and MD programs, research opportunities,” said current intern Mikayla Bowen, a rising sophomore majoring in nutrition and chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “There are so many different directions I could take."

Beverly McLaughlin, a current P2EP intern from North Carolina A&T State University, added, “From the beginning of P2EP up to now, I’ve already come across so many resources and met so many people that I wouldn’t have encountered if I stayed closer to home this summer. For me, this internship is definitely an opportunity for growth.”

For more about P2EP and its sponsors, please visit p2ep.org.

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