Founding of Stanford Medical Youth Science Program
The Stanford Medical Youth Science Program (SMYSP) was the brainchild of Dr. Marilyn Winkleby, then associate professor of medicine at Stanford University, and two exceptional Stanford pre-med students, Michael McCullough and Marc Lawrence. Together, the three envisioned a program that would offer academic enrichment and long-term mentoring to low-income and minority high school students. They wanted to find a way to bring these students, many of whom had suffered hardship, into the world-renowned setting of Stanford University where they could learn more about science and medicine.
SMYSP was awarded a $10,000 grant from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the first iteration of the program launched in the summer of 1987. It was a shoestring operation: McCullough and Lawrence arranged labs and lectures; Dr. Winkleby made home visits to urge families to let their children attend the program; Stanford staff members and students were tapped to lend support and to teach. The enormous effort paid off, and seven students enrolled in the free, commuter program.
The following year, in 1988, SMYSP became the residential experience it is now known for. Stanford undergraduates began to serve as counselors to the students that year, and workshops in SAT preparation, writing college essays and obtaining financial aid for college were provided. The program also extended its recruitment efforts to 18 counties in northern California and ultimately invited 23 students to be a part of the inaugural summer residential program. Many of the students selected showed great courage in the face of both academic and personal challenges like poverty and war, violence and racial injustice. Students like Irene Linetskaya, who survived the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and went on to attend Harvard Medical School, and Erik Cabral, a student who turned his back on an inner-city gang to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor, were admitted. Many SMYSP participants have gone on to become the first in their families to attend college.
Over the subsequent years, the program received funding from a number of grants and donations that continue to support its efforts to enhance the education of low-income and minority high school students in medicine and science. The program is grateful for support from generous individuals, organizations, and foundations, including the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Initiative for Biomedical Research, U.S. Department of Education, National Institute of Health, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the California Educational Facilities Authority, the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), the California Endowment, and many others.
The program celebrated its 30-year anniversary in 2018.
SMYSP in Images
2002: Participants gather in the hospital hallway.
2003: SMYSP participants learning anatomy.
2008: Alumni celebrate the 20th anniversary of SMYSP with then-Executive Director Judith Ned.
2011: Dr. Marilyn Winkleby receiving the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring from President Barack Obama.
2018: Current and former directors gathered for the 30th anniversary celebration of SMYSP. From left: Dr. Marilyn Winkleby, Rick Sommer, Dr. Judith Ned, Alivia Shorter
Former SMYSP Logo
The shield references Stanford Medicine, which was the department that founded SMYSP. The logo also features a book, a stethoscope, and the SMYSP acronym was used as a logo for the program early on.