Petit Foundation Gives $248,000 To Support Women In Science

June 23, 2016 - Stephen Singer

The Petit Foundation is giving the Jackson Laboratory $248,000 over four years to support a fellowship program for young women seeking careers in science, the research center announced Thursday.

The newly established Petit Family Foundation Women in Genomics Initiative will establish several fellowships for summer studies, student teachers and programs in genome education. Genomic research analyzes the function and structure of genomes, which are the set of DNA within a cell of an organism.

The Petit Foundation, based in Plainville, was established to honor the memories of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, Hayley and Michaela, who were murdered in their Cheshire home in July 2007 by two career criminals on parole.

William Petit, the sole survivor of the attack and a physician, praised the Jackson Laboratory, based in Farmington and Bar Harbor, Maine, as a "leader in empowering young women in science" through its educational programs and exploration of the genetic basis of human diseases.

"We believe our support will help young women pursue careers and paths to leadership in STEM professions," he said.

Over the four-year grant period, the Petit Family Foundation Summer Student Fellowship will finance participation of four talented female high school or college students in the JAX Summer Student Program. Guided by a mentor, students participate in a research program, develop an independent project, put their plan in place and analyze data and report the results.

In each year of the grant a student teacher fellowship financed by the Petit Family Foundation will support a woman pursuing her degree in high school math or science education for one year at Jackson Lab.

A fellowship for a genome teacher fellowship will fund the participation of 10 teachers from Connecticut schools in a one-week, intensive summer professional development program on genomics and genetics.

Another fund will help cover the costs of incorporating a new genomics curriculum in Connecticut schools, including the costs of a mobile lab, laboratory supplies, shipping and staff assistance from Jackson Lab.

The Petit Foundation supports programs to foster the education of young people, particularly women in the sciences; improve the lives of those affected by chronic illness; and support efforts to protect and help those affected by violence.

The Jackson Lab's mission is to discover precise genomic solutions for disease and share data and research results with the biomedical community.