Skip to main content

We’ve updated our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy. By using this site, you agree to these terms.

For the ninth year, Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine (GCSOM) hosted several local high school students for a fellowship research experience at the school.

The invited students are members of the elite Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science (PJAS).

PJAS is a statewide organization sanctioned by the Pennsylvania Academy of Science, whose mission is to provide a forum where secondary students can conduct scientific research and present the results of that research on both a local and state level. In 2009, Dr. Clay LaCoe, STEM supervisor for the Wallenpaupack Area School District and regional director of PJAS, sought to forge a relationship between PJAS and GCSOM, resulting in the research program. 

Sonia Lobo Planey, PhD, associate dean for research & scholarship and associate professor of biochemistry at GCSOM, said, “The fellowship experience involves a two-day visit to the School of Medicine. Students are provided with career counseling specifically focused on improving their competitiveness for future careers in science/medicine; given opportunities to network with medical students, physicians and research scientists; and given complete access to our medical school’s state-of-the-art biomedical and bioinformatics research facilities.”

During the two-day experience, students conduct experiments and participate in biomedical research projects focused on a broad range of health topics of particular significance in northeastern Pennsylvania, including cancer, osteoporosis and obesity.

“Together with Dr. LaCoe, we saw an opportunity for students in the region to experience and understand what it means to be a working scientist and to gain access to a network of professionals who could mentor them about science/medical career opportunities,” Dr. Planey said. “As a result, we established the GCSOM/PJAS Fellowship, awarded annually to a very small and select group of PJAS students.” 

Fellowship awardees are selected as part of a competitive process that involves the completion of an essay concerning a regional health problem and personal interview during the annual PJAS regional competition. To date, GCSOM has hosted 46 students.

About Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine

Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine (GCSOM) is a member of the Geisinger family. GCSOM offers a community-based model of medical education with campuses in Danville, Lewistown, Scranton, Sayre and Wilkes-Barre. Geisinger Commonwealth offers Doctor of Medicine (MD) and a portfolio of graduate degrees. The school’s innovative curriculum, focused on caring for people in the context of their lives and their community, attracts the next generation of physicians and scientists from within its region, as well as from across the state and the nation. Geisinger Commonwealth is committed to non-discrimination in all employment and educational opportunities. Visit

About Geisinger
Geisinger is among the nation’s leading providers of value-based care, serving 1.2 million people in urban and rural communities across Pennsylvania. Founded in 1915 by philanthropist Abigail Geisinger, the non-profit system generates $10 billion in annual revenues across 134 care sites - including 10 hospital campuses, and Geisinger Health Plan, with 600,000 members in commercial and government plans. The Geisinger College of Health Sciences educates more than 5,000 medical professionals annually and conducts more than 1,400 clinical research studies. With 26,000 employees, including 1,600 employed physicians, Geisinger is among Pennsylvania’s largest employers with an estimated economic impact of $14 billion to the state’s economy. On March 31, 2024, Geisinger became the first member of Risant Health, a new nonprofit charitable organization created to expand and accelerate value-based care across the country.  Learn more at or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and X.

Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science at GCSOM 2018
Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science (PJAS) students learned research skills at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine (GCSOM) July 16-20. Seen from left are PJAS fellows, Maricruz Saucedo, Old Forge High School, Old Forge; Kristina Rinaldi, Pocono Mountain East High School, Henryville; Natasha Kuklis, Allentown Central Catholic, Allentown; Olivia Zehel, Holy Cross High School, Dunmore; and Vaeda Pontosky, Western Wayne High School, Lake Ariel with Sonia Lobo Planey, PhD, associate dean for research & scholarship and associate professor of biochemistry at GCSOM.

For education media inquiries

Elizabeth Zygmunt
Marketing and Communications Strategist for Education
Office: 570-504-9687
On call: 570-687-9703

Content from General Links with modal content